Suicide deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes in recent years in the United States, according to a report by the CDC.
In 2010 there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides. Suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen substantially since 1999, according to the report.
“This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on programs that prevent suicide,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release.
For a report published in the May 3 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC investigated suicide trends among U.S. adults ages 35 to 64 by sex and other demographic characteristics, state of residence and mechanism of injury from 1999 to 2010, using data available through the CDCs Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System.
Annual suicide rates for this age group increased 28% over this period (from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010), with particularly high increases among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Increases in suicide rates among males and females were observed from suicides involving hanging/suffocation, poisoning and firearms. Suicide rates among those ages 35 to 64 increased in all states, with statistically significant increases occurring in 39 states.
The suicide rates for those ages 10 to 34 and those 65 and older did not change significantly during this period, according to the report.
“The findings in this report suggest it is important for suicide prevention strategies to address the types of stressors that middle-aged Americans might be facing and that can contribute to suicide risk,” said Linda C. Degutis, MSN, DrPH, director of the CDCs National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Key findings from the report:
• The greatest increases in suicide rates were among people ages 50 to 54 (48%) and 55 to 59 (49%). Among racial/ethnic groups, the greatest increases in suicide rates were among white non-Hispanics (40%) and American Indian and Alaska Natives (65%).
• Suicide rates increased 23% or more across all four major regions of the United States.
• Suicide rates by hanging/suffocation increased 81%, compared with 14% by firearm and 24% by poisoning. Firearm and hanging/suffocation were the most common suicide mechanisms for middle-aged men. Poisoning and firearm were the most common mechanisms for middle-aged women.
Most suicide research and prevention efforts have focused historically on youth and the elderly. This reports findings suggest efforts also should address the needs of middle-aged people, according to the CDC.
Suicide prevention strategies involve enhancing social support and community connectedness, improving access to mental health and preventive services and reducing the stigma and barriers associated with seeking help, according to the CDC.
Other prevention strategies include programs to help those at increased risk of suicide, such as those struggling with financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, stress of caregiving for children and aging parents, substance abuse and serious or chronic health problems.
Read the report: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm?s_cid=mm6217a1_w.