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Facts About Suicide

Detailed statistics on suicide in the U.S. Covering adult and youth suicide, suicide among seniors, methods of suicide and more.

Detailed statistics on suicide in the U.S. Covering adult and youth suicide, suicide among seniors, methods of suicide and more.

Studies indicate that the best way to prevent suicide is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

  • Over 32,000 people in the United States kill themselves every year.
  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Suicide is fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the U.S., with approximately 26,500 suicides.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the U.S. An attempt is made once a minute.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are more than four male suicides for every female suicide. However, at least twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • Every day, approximately 80 Americans take their own life, and 1500 attempt. There are an estimated eight to twenty-five attempted suicides to one completion.

Youth Suicide

  • Detailed statistics on suicide in the U.S., covering adult and youth suicide, suicide among seniors, methods of suicide, more.Suicide is the 5th leading cause of death among all those 5 to 14 years of age.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among all those 15 to 24 years of age.
  • The suicide rate for white males age 15 to 24 has tripled since 1950, while for white females, it has more than doubled. Among persons age 10 to 14 years, the rate has increased by 100%. Since the mid-1990s, the youth suicide rate has been steadily decreasing.
  • Among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate has doubled in the last two decades.
  • Between 1980-1996, the suicide rate for African-American males aged 15-19 has also doubled.
  • Risk factors for suicide among the young include suicidal thoughts, psychiatric disorders (such as depression, impulsive aggressive behavior, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety disorders), drug and/or alcohol abuse and previous suicide attempts, with the risk increased if there is also access to firearms and situational stress.

Suicide Among Seniors

  • The suicide rates for men rise with age, most significantly after age 65.
  • The rate of suicide in men 65+ is seven times that of females who are 65+.
  • The suicide rates for women peak between the ages of 45-54 years old, and again after age 75.
  • About 60 percent of elderly patients who take their own lives see their primary care physician within a few months of their death.
  • 6-9 percent of older Americans who are in a primary care setting suffer from major depression.
  • More than 30 percent of patients suffering from major depression report suicidal ideation.
  • Risk factors for suicide among the elderly include: a previous attempt, the presence of a mental illness, the presence of a physical illness, social isolation (some studies have shown this is especially so in older males who are recently widowed) and access to means, such as the availability of firearms in the home.

Depression and Suicide

  • Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent. Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 19 million people.
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (12 million), cancer (10 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).
  • About 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized.

Alcoholism and Suicide

  • Ninety-six percent of alcoholics who die by suicide continue their substance abuse up to the end of their lives.
  • Alcoholism is a factor in about 30 percent of all completed suicides.
  • Approximately 7 percent of those with alcohol dependence will die by suicide.

Guns and Suicide

  • Although most gun owners reportedly keep a firearm in their home for "protection" or "self defense," 83 percent of gun-related deaths in these homes are the result of a suicide, often by someone other than the gun owner.
  • Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides.
  • Death by firearms is the fastest growing method of suicide.
  • Firearms account for 52 percent of all suicides.

Above figures from the National Center for Health Statistics for the year 2005.
Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

next: Frequently Asked Questions About Suicide
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Last Updated: 11 September 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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