Friday, April 22, 2016

CDC Report on Suicide Underscores Urgent Need to Identify At-Risk Individuals

After a period of rather consistent decline in suicide rates in the United States from 1986 through 1999, a report released today from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows suicide rates climbed 24% from 1999 through 2014 (from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 people). While the rate increased almost steadily over the period, the average annual percent increase was greater for the second half of this period (2006–2014) than for the first half (1999–2006), with increases in both males and females aged 10 to 74.

Among other statistics, the report revealed the suicide rate for females aged 10 to 14 had the highest percent increase (200%) during the period analyzed, tripling from 0.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 1.5 in 2014. Women aged 45 to 64—who experienced the highest suicide rates for females in both 1999 (6.0 per 100,000) and 2014 (9.8)—had the second-largest percent increase (63%) since 1999.

While men aged 75 and over had the highest suicide rates overall in 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate for this demographic dropped by 8%, from 42.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 38.8 in 2014. Men aged 45 to 64 had the second-highest suicide rate for males in 2014 and the largest percent increase (43%) in rates, increasing from 20.8 in 1999 to 29.7 in 2014.

“I believe this report reaffirms that psychiatrists and other providers need to identify individuals at risk for suicide and treat them aggressively,” said APA President-elect Maria Oquendo, M.D. “And while underlying disorders such as depression or substance use need to be addressed, there are also treatment options that specifically target suicidal behavior, such as dialectical therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. In addition, safety planning is a simple but valuable intervention to help patients identify triggers for suicidal ideation and have a plan to deal with them.”

Oquendo, a professor of psychiatry and director of residency training at Columbia University Medical Center, also stressed that APA and other parties cannot be complacent about the role of guns in suicide. “This report did show that the percentage of suicides attributable to guns has gone down since 1999, but the raw numbers are still going up,” she said.

For related information, see the president’s column by RenĂ©e Binder, M.D., titled “Gun Policy and Suicide Prevention.”


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