Suicide is classified as a major public health problem in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In order to get a clearer picture of the problem and the prevalence of suicide in the United States, considering some key statistical information may be helpful.
General Suicide Statistical Data Across the United States
Approximately 47,000 people commit suicide in the United States annually, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This number is likely underreported inasmuch as a good number of survivors of people who take their lives attempt to mask the actual cause of death. The element of shame remains strongly attached to suicide, suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, and related issues. This sense of shame encompasses not only individuals who think about or attempt suicide but also family members of those who take their lives at their own hands or attempt to do so.
There are an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts in the United States each year. As is the case with the count of people who take their lives, the estimate of attempts can prove to be a challenge. Certainly, a number of suicide attempts go unreported every day of the year across the country. There are approximately 273,000 emergency department visits each year across the country for self-inflicted injuries.
The national average is 14 suicides in the country per 100,000 people. On average across the United States, 129 people take their lives each day. White males accounted for nearly 70 percent of all suicide deaths in the United States in 2017. This percentage is fairly consistent from one year to the next. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Men take their lives at a rate of more than 3.5 times that of women. Firearms are used in over 50 percent of all suicides in the United States.
The overall suicide deaths by method data are as follows:
- Firearms – 50 percent
- Suffocation (hanging) – 28 percent
- Poisoning (intentional drug overdose) – 14 percent
- Other means – 8 percent
15 Most Common Reasons Underlying Suicide and Suicide Attempts
Although not perfectly precise, evidence surrounding the deaths of people by suicide and surrounding those who attempt to take their lives reveal that there are 15 more commonplace reasons why people seek to end their lives. These are:
- Mental illness
- Traumatic experience
- Personality disorders
- Substance addiction/substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Loneliness/social isolation
- Relationship issues/problems
- Family history/genetics
- Existential crisis/philosophical reason
- Terminal illness
- Chronic pain
- Financial issues/problems
- Prescription drug abuse/addiction
Statistically speaking, a person who takes his or her own life or attempts to do so very well may be laboring under more than one of these issues. For example, evidence suggests that upwards of 90 percent of all people who take their lives, or attempt to kill themselves, are depressed. By way of example, a person might be depressed because he or she is the target of bullying or because of employment or financial issues. In some situations, a depressed individual might self-medicate using illicit mind-altering substances, by abusing prescription medications, or both.
In addition to depression, the other more common mental health conditions that are contributing factors to suicide or suicide attempts are:
- Bipolar disorder
Traumatic experiences that result in PTSD are also underlying a notable number of suicides and suicide attempts in the United States. The most common experiences that lead to suicide and suicide attempts are:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
California State Specific Suicide Statistical Data
California has one of the lowest suicide rates in the United States. In fact, California ranks 46th and almost at the bottom of all states when it comes to its suicide rate. As previously noted, the national suicide average as of 2019 is 14 suicides per every 100,000 people. In California, the rate is 10 suicides for every 100,000, markedly below the national average. Approximately 4,300 take their lives annually in California.
Despite having a suicide rate well below the national average, suicide remains a major concern in California. Approximately one person in California dies by suicide every two hours in the state. Overall, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the state of California. Among people between the ages of 15 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death in California. It is the fourth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 35 to 44, while it is the fifth leading cause of death in the state for people between the ages of 45 to 54.
A person laboring under thoughts of suicide, or an individual concerned about the suicidal ideations of someone else, can obtain immediate assistance via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. The Lifeline is staffed around the clock, 365 days a year, including all major holidays.