PODCAST: Suicide Trends in the U.S. and Weekly NCHS Updates

February 26, 2021

STATCAST, FEBRUARY 2021: DISCUSSION WITH HOLLY HEDEGAARD, A STATISTICIAN, ABOUT SUICIDE TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/podcasts/2021/20210226/20210226.htm

HOST:  Last week NCHS released the latest trend report on suicide rates in the nation.  Joining us today is Holly Hedegaard, the lead author of this new report.

Holly, so what do the latest final numbers tell us?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  Well the report that was just released from the National Center for Health Statistics looked at suicide rates over the last 20 years and what we saw was that from 1999 through 2018 there’s been a steady increase in the suicide rate – it increased about 35% over that time period. But what’s interesting is that in 2019 the rate is lower than it was in 2018 and that’s the first significant drop in suicide rates we’ve seen in the past 20 years.  While that’s an encouraging sign, I think it’s important to remember that a single year drop doesn’t necessarily say that’s a meaningful change in the overall trend is just that within a single year we saw a decrease in the suicide rates in 2019 compared to 2018

HOST:  Youth suicide in particular is a major concern.  What do the trends show among young people?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  So for young people suicide rates are actually lower than for other age groups – so that’s a good thing that the rates are lower – but what’s concerning is that these are the age groups where we’ve seen quite a bit of an increase in the suicide rates in recent years.  And so for example for girls who are age 10 to 14, their rates have increased about four-fold in the past 20 years, but their rates are still among the lowest of all the age and sex groups.  Rates have also increased for boys and for young men but not to the same extent as for girls.  And so again, for both boys and girls and for age 10 to 14 and ages 15 to 24, the rates are low but they are increasing – and I think that’s the reason of concern about suicide rates in young people.

HOST:  What groups have the highest suicide rates in the country?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  This report focuses on rates by sex and by age group, so the report looks at those particular characteristics, and the suicide rates are highest for men age 75 and older and that’s been true for a long period of time so the highest rates among men aged 75 and older.  For females the highest rates are for women ages 45 to 64 so it’s more of the middle-aged female when you look for high suicide rates among females.

HOST:  There aren’t full-year data available yet for 2020, but mental health professionals worry that the stress and isolation from the pandemic will result in a spike in suicide rates.  Do you have any insight at all about 2020 at this point?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  As you mentioned, we don’t have any of the final data for 2020 yet so we can’t give a definitive answer but NCHS has been generating from provisional estimates to try to get a sense of what has been happening during 2020.  And NCHS has posted some provisional estimates for the first quarter of 2020 – which it goes through March of 2020 – and as of the beginning of last year the rate, the suicide rate, was slightly higher than the rate during the comparable time period in 2019.  So a slight increase in the first quarter.  NCHS has been developing some additional modeling techniques to look at the trends in a variety of different types of deaths including drug overdose, suicide, and transportation related deaths during the early months of 2020, and based on that modeling technique the predicted weekly numbers of suicide deaths early 2020 were similar to historic levels, and then declined a little bit between March and June, and then again was pretty much no different than historic levels from July through October.  So based on these model estimates, that suggested there hasn’t really been a spike in suicide mortality, at least in the first half of 2020.  But it’s important to recognize that these are modeled estimates – these are not final numbers, they aren’t the final rates – and we’ll continue to be refining and confirming these estimates as NCHS receives more data for the deaths that occurred in 2020.  So as of now, we don’t have anything that looks like there’s been a huge increase in suicide during 2020 but that’s again based on modeled estimates.

HOST:  Your report looks at the different mechanisms used in suicides in the U.S.  What do those numbers tell us?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  The means of suicide varies by males compared to females, and for males about little over half of the suicides involve use of a firearm and about 28% involve hanging or suffocation… A much smaller proportion involved poisoning or other means. We’ve seen a slight increase in the rates for firearm-related suicides among men over the past 20 years but where there’s been a rather large increase has been in the rate for suicide by hanging or suffocation.  That rate among men has doubled over the last 20 years.  The picture for women is a little bit different.  From about 2001 through 2015, poisoning was the leading means of suicide among women.  But Interestingly in the last few years, since about 2016, we’ve actually seen a decline in the rate of suicide by poisoning among women and an increase in the rate of suicides that involve firearms or suffocation.  And so in the most recent years, the rates of suicide by firearm and by suffocation are slightly higher than the rate of suicide by poisoning.  The rate of suicide by suffocation among females has actually tripled in the past 20 years.

HOST:  Now by poisoning are you referring to drug overdoses?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  No, poisoning is actually a broader terminology that includes drug poisoning, but it also includes other types of poisons like carbon monoxide or chemicals or a variety of other things that sometimes people ingest or take. But they aren’t drugs there are used for other purposes.

HOST:  So your data then show that drug overdoses are really not a significant method used in suicides?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  It’s different – again, as I mentioned – for men or for women.  For men, only about 5% of suicide actually involve a drug overdose.  For women, it’s about 27% of their suicides involve a drug overdose.  So they’re not the, drug overdoses are not the leading means of suicide for either men or women.  For both men and women, rates of firearm-related suicide or suicide by hanging and suffocation are higher than the rates of suicide by drug overdose.

HOST:  This report doesn’t look at geographical differences but what areas of the country are having a tougher time with this problem?

HOLLY HEDEGAARD:  So the higher suicide rates are found in the Rocky Mountain states such as Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, as well as Alaska.  So these are states that have historically been high and they continue to remain high.  In the most current years or recent years, we’ve seen increase in the rates in some of the other states in the Midwest and in the New England states, up in Maine and Vermont and New Hampshire.  They aren’t the highest rates but they are increasing, so it’s important to sort of recognize that there are states in addition to the Rocky Mountain stage that also are seeing higher suicide rates.

HOST:   The National Health Interview Survey issued two new reports, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  On Tuesday, NCHS teamed with the VA on a report that examined multiple chronic conditions among veterans and non-veterans.  Based on data from the 2015-2018 NHIS, the study authors found that about one-half of male veterans and over one-third of female veterans had two or more chronic conditions, compared with less than one-fourth of male nonveterans and less than one-fifth of female nonveterans.  Hypertension and arthritis were the most prevalent chronic conditions among all veterans age 25 and over.  Diabetes was also prevalent among male veterans ages 25 to 64 and asthma was also prevalent among female veterans in this age group.  Cancer was also prevalent among all veterans age 65 and older.

On Wednesday, NCHS released another study looking at health care utilization among those afflicted with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.  The study used NHIS data and found that adults with IBD were more likely than those without IBD to have visited any doctor or mental health provider in the past year, and were also more likely to have been prescribed medication or to have received acute care services such as ER visits, overnight hospital stays, or surgeries.

On Thursday, NCHS released a third study – on dietary supplement use among American adults age 20 and over.  The report used data from the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and found that over half of adults used a dietary supplement in the past month – nearly two-thirds /3 of women and just over half of men.  Eight out of ten women age 60 and over used dietary supplements, and older Americans are more likely to use more than one dietary supplement.   The most common dietary supplement used was multivitamin-mineral supplements.  Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements were also commonly used.

Finally, today NCHS is releasing the latest quarterly provisional data on birth rates in the United States, through the third quarter of 2020, showing that fertility rates in the country continued to drop compared to the same point in 2019.  Teen birth rates and pre-term rates also declined in Quarter 3 of 2020 compared with Quarter 3 of 2019, while cesarean delivery rates increased over this period.

 


QuickStats: Motor-Vehicle–Traffic Death Rates Among Persons Aged 15–24 Years and ≥25 Years — United States, 2000–2019

February 26, 2021

From 2000 to 2006, rates of death caused by motor-vehicle–traffic injuries among persons aged 15–24 years and ≥25 years did not change significantly.

From 2006 to 2010, motor-vehicle–traffic death rates per 100,000 population declined among those aged 15–24 years, from 25.1 (2006) to 16.1 (2010), and among those aged ≥25 years, from 15.9 (2006) to 12.5 (2010).

Throughout most of the period, motor-vehicle–traffic death rates were higher among persons aged 15–24 years; however, motor-vehicle–traffic death rates began to converge in more recent years, and by 2019, the difference in the rate among those aged 15–24 years (13.7) and those aged ≥25 years (13.6) was not statistically significant.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data, 2000–2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/deaths.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7008a6.htm


QuickStats: Death Rates Attributed to Excessive Cold or Hypothermia† Among Persons Aged15 Years or older, by Urban-Rural Status and Age Group

February 19, 2021

In 2019, among persons aged 15 years or older, death rates attributed to excessive cold or hypothermia were higher in rural areas than in urban areas across every age group.

Crude rates were lowest among those aged 15–34 years at 0.2 and 0.5 per 100,000 population in urban and rural areas, respectively.

Rates increased with age, with the highest rates among those aged 85 years or older at 4.6 in urban areas and 8.6 in rural areas. Differences between urban and rural rates also increased with age.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data 2019. https://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7007a6.htm


Provisional Monthly Drug Overdose Deaths from July 2019 to July 2020

February 17, 2021

On Wednesday (February 17) NCHS released the next set of monthly provisional drug overdose death counts.

Provisional data show that the reported number of drug overdose deaths occurring in the United States increased by 22.8% from the 12 months ending in July 2019 to the 12 months ending in July 2020, from  68,023 to  83,544.  After adjustments for delayed reporting, the predicted number of drug overdose deaths showed an increase of 24.2% from the 12 months ending in July 2019 to the 12 months ending in July 2020, from 69,266 to  86,001.

The reported number of opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States for the 12-month period ending in July 2020 (61,297) increased from 47,474 in the previous year. The predicted number of opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States for the 12-month period ending in July 2020 (63,129) increased from 48,429 in the previous year. Recent trends may still be partially due to incomplete data.

The reported and predicted number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (excluding methadone; T40.4) and psychostimulants with abuse potential (T43.6) continued to increase compared to the previous year. Both reported and predicted overdose deaths involving cocaine increased compared to the previous year. The reported and predicted number of natural and semi-synthetic opioid deaths also increased compared to the previous year


QuickStats: Death Rates for Motor-Vehicle–Traffic Injuries, Suicide, and Homicide Among Adolescents and Young Adults Aged 15–24 Years — United States, 1999–2019

February 5, 2021

Mortality rates for adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years for deaths from motor-vehicle–traffic injury, suicide, and homicide remained relatively stable during 1999–2006 and then exhibited different patterns through 2019.

In 1999, the rate for motor-vehicle–traffic deaths was 25.6 per 100,000 population and declined to 13.7 in 2019. The suicide rate was 10.1 in 1999 and increased to 14.5 in 2018 before declining to 13.9 in 2019.

The homicide rate was 12.9 in 1999 and declined to 9.5 in 2014 before increasing to 11.2 in 2019.

In 2019, the death rates for motor-vehicle–traffic injury and suicide were similar; both rates were higher than the homicide rate.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data, 2009–2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/deaths.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7005a6.htm


Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts (thru June 2020)

January 14, 2021

 

NCHS released the latest monthly provisional data on drug overdose deaths in America on Wednesday.  This release covers the one-year period ending in June of 2020, and the impact of the pandemic on drug abuse in the country is reflected in the new numbers.

Provisional data show that the reported number of drug overdose deaths occurring in the United States increased by 19.5% from the 12 months ending in June 2019 to the 12 months ending in June 2020, from 67,787 to 81,003.  After adjustments for delayed reporting, the predicted number of drug overdose deaths showed an increase of 21.3% from the 12 months ending in June 2019 to the 12 months ending in June 2020, from 68,711 to 83,335.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm

 


Increases in Prepregnancy Obesity: United States, 2016–2019

November 25, 2020

A new NCHS report presents trends in prepregnancy obesity for 2016 through 2019 by maternal race and Hispanic origin, age, and educational attainment. Trends by state for 2016–2019 and 2019 rates also are shown.

Key Findings:

  • Prepregnancy obesity in the United States rose from 26.1% in 2016 to 29.0% in 2019 and increased steadily for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic women.
  • From 2016 through 2019, prepregnancy obesity increased among women of all ages and was lowest for women under age 20 (20.5% in 2019).
  • From 2016 through 2019, women with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to have prepregnancy obesity than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, but obesity increased over time among all education levels.
  • Compared with 2016, prepregnancy obesity rose in every state but Vermont in 2019.

QuickStats: Death Rates from Unintentional Falls Among Persons Aged ≥65 Years, by Age Group — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 1999–2018

November 13, 2020

From 1999 to 2018, death rates from unintentional falls among persons aged ≥65 years increased among all age groups.

The largest increase occurred among persons aged ≥85 years, from 110.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 270.5 in 2018.

For persons aged 75–84 years, the rate increased from 31.5 to 63.1, and among those aged 65–74 years, the rate increased from 9.0 to 16.8.

Throughout the period, rates were highest among persons aged ≥85 years, followed by rates among persons aged 75–84 years, and were lowest among persons aged 65–74 years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/deaths.htm.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6945a10.htm


QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates for Alzheimer Disease Among Adults Aged 65 Years or Older, by Sex and Race/Hispanic Origin

November 6, 2020

In 2018, the age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimer disease among adults aged 65 years or older was higher for women (267.9 deaths per 100,000) than for men (191.9).

Among men, non-Hispanic White men had the highest death rate (201.7) compared with non-Hispanic Black (176.8) and Hispanic (168.4) men.

Among women, non-Hispanic White women (285.1) had the highest death rate, followed by non-Hispanic Black (234.7) and Hispanic (218.8) women.

Compared with men, women had higher age-adjusted death rates from Alzheimer disease in all three race and Hispanic-origin groups.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6944a7.htm


QuickStats: Rate of Unintentional Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)–Related Deaths Among Persons Aged 24 Years and Under, by Age Group

October 16, 2020

From 1999 to 2018, death rates for unintentional TBI among persons aged 24 years and under declined across all age groups.

During the 20-year period, TBI-related death rates declined from 3.7 per 100,000 to 1.5 among children aged 0–4 years, from 3.0 to 0.9 for children and adolescents aged 5–14 years, from 14.7 to 4.4 for adolescents and young adults aged 15–19 years, and from 14.1 to 6.9 for young adults aged 20–24 years.

For most of the period, rates were highest for persons aged 20–24 years followed by those aged 15–19, 0–4, and 5–14 years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6941a5.htm