Friday, June 8, 2018

APA Reacts to CDC Report on Uptick in Suicides Across United States

A report released yesterday by the CDC found suicide rates increased significantly in most states between 1999 and 2016, with 25 states experiencing increases of greater than 30%. The report also suggested that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

“Suicide is a critical issue for all of us who work in health care,” APA President Altha Stewart, M.D., said in statement released today. “We know from other research that most people who die by suicide have mental health conditions, though they may not have been formally diagnosed or treated. People should know that suicide is preventable. Anyone contemplating suicide should know that help is available, and that there is no shame in seeking care for your mental health.”

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours/7 days a week. For those seeking help, please call 1-800-273-8255.

“Suicide is rarely caused by any single factor, but rather, is determined by multiple factors,” including mental illness and prior suicide attempts, as well as social and economic problems, access to lethal means, and poor coping and problem-solving skills, lead author Deborah Stone, Sc.D., of the CDC and colleagues wrote. “Examining state-level trends in suicide and the multiple circumstances contributing to it can inform comprehensive state suicide prevention planning.”

Stone and colleagues used data from National Vital Statistics System to calculate national and state-level suicide rate estimates for people aged 10 and older from 1999 to 2016. Suicide rates increased in all states except Nevada, where the rate was consistently high (above 21 per 100,000 people) throughout the study period; the absolute increases in suicide rates ranged from 0.8 per 100,000 people in Delaware to 8.1 per 100,000 people in Wyoming.

The researchers also compared the characteristics of people who died by suicide, with and without known mental health conditions, in the 27 states with complete data in CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System in 2015. Their analysis revealed that 54.0% of those who died by suicide did not have known mental health conditions (disorders and syndromes listed in DSM-5). While most of the people who died by suicide were male (76.8%) and non-Hispanic white (83.6%), those without known mental health conditions were more likely to be male (83.6% versus 68.8%) and belong to a racial/ethnic minority than those with known mental health conditions.

“Today's report on suicide reinforces the need to fund and enforce laws ensuring access to mental health services,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “Early identification of mental illness is essential, and we are ready to work with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that Americans can receive treatment when needed.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “How to Reduce Risk of Suicide by Firearms,” by Liza Gold, M.D.

(Image: iStock/carterdayne)


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