US Suicide Trends

. . . suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes.
I can take or leave it
If I please. [“MASH” theme]


In 2016, the suicide rate in the US reached a 30-year high. Probably the only reason it hasn’t risen further is that the government statistics aren’t out.

The program “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix has cast a spotlight on teen suicide, but the rate has soared in the 35-54 age group. As the NIMH puts it, in 2016:

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
  • There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).(1)

Suicide was the #8 cause of death in the 55 to 64 age group. If you make it through heart disease and cancer, there’s always suicide. Actually, I know one person in that age group who killed himself after being diagnosed with cancer because he had no health insurance and couldn’t afford the cost of treatment. That was a couple of years before the Affordable Care Act was passed, and, well, we’re back to that bad time again.

According to one new study, visits to hospitals among teens and preteens related to suicide almost doubled between 2009 and 2015.(4) That’s well before the Netflix program appeared.

70% of suicides are by white males.(2) The states with the highest suicide rates are Alaska, Montana and Wyoming, suggesting that isolation is a factor in the decision to do this.

A new study from NIH shows that the suicide rate for black children age 5 to 12 is double that of white children in the same age group.(3) We hear about bullying cases involving white kids, but the reality is different.

A 2013 NIMH report placed the cost of suicide at $50.8 billion. In this society, everything one does or doesn’t do affects someone else.

Life has a lot of stress, and people seem to like to create more stress for each other rather than help.

I expect suicides to continue to climb. The economy is being propped up by deficit spending on infrastructure. That’s the reason for all the road construction projects. Once the Federal government pulls back, financial stress on most Americans will increase dramatically.





  1. It’s not at all coincidental that the suicide rate has skyrocketed along with poverty in the United States of America. The correlation seems to me to be undeniable.

    According to this article:

    “Approximately 75% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where rates of poverty are high. Evidence suggests a relationship between economic variables and suicidal behaviour.”

    Working with an organization that seeks to address the symptoms of poverty, I can easily see how it affects people’s entire outlook on life. Some blame a lack of religion in suicidal people’s lives, but the fact is that many who choose to go this route are in fact deeply religious. But a God who never seems to answer—except, perhaps, in the negative—is of little or no help to people who struggle just to exist.

    This is not to say that poverty is the only factor in driving people to suicide, but it does seem to me to be a prominent one.


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