Increase in Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2018

Questions for Holly Hedegaard, Health Statistician and Lead Author of “Increase in Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2018.”

Q: Are there any major changes in the suicide rates rate from 2017 to 2018?

HH: The suicide rate in 2018 (14.2 per 100,000) is slightly higher than the rate in 2017 (14.0).


Q: Can you summarize how the rates data varied by sex, age groups and urbanicity?

HH: The report looks at suicide rates from 1999 through 2018. Suicide rates in 2018 were higher than in 1999 for males and females in all age groups under age 75. Among females, suicide rates from 1999 through 2018 were highest for those aged 45–64 and lowest for those aged 10–14. Among males, suicide rates were highest for those aged 75 and over and lowest for those aged 10–14. After years of increase, the suicide rates for several demographic groups have stabilized in recent years. These include females aged 45 and over, and males aged 45–64. Females aged 10–44, males aged 10–44, and males 65 and over continue to experience increasing trends in suicide rates. In 2018, the suicide rate for females in the most rural counties was 1.6 times the rate for females in the most urban counties. A similar pattern was seen for males where the suicide rate in the most rural counties was 1.7 times the rate for males in the most urban counties.


Q: Are you able to break down the data by race?

HH: The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has data on suicide rates by race and ethnicity, however those results are not presented in this report. Data can be accessed via an on-line query system CDC WONDER at: https://wonder.cdc.gov/


Q: Was there a specific finding in the data that surprised you from this report?

HH: It was promising to see that after years of increase, the suicide rates for several demographic groups, including females aged 45 and over and males aged 45–64, have stabilized in recent years.


Q: Do you have any predictions for the 2019 suicide data?

HH: The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) prepares quarterly provisional estimates for many of the leading causes of death. See  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/mortality-dashboard.htm. The quarterly provisional estimates suggest that the age-adjusted suicide death rate for the 12-month period ending in June 2019 was 14.2, which is the same as the age-adjusted death rate of 14.2 for the 12-month period ending in June 2018. This would suggest that by midyear of 2019, the suicide rate was similar to the rate in midyear 2018 (no increase or decrease).

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