Dr. Karl Menninger, the founder of the world-renowned Menninger Foundation, once stated that “hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse.” Every day, men, women, and even children across the United States and around the world end their own lives. The stark reality is that the suicide of a loved one touches the lives of nearly everyone at some point in time.
The Hard Basic Facts About Suicide
Essential statistics maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shed light on the significant incidence of suicide in the United States. These include:
- Suicide is ranked as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States among people of all ages.
- Over 41,000 suicides occurred in the country during the last year in which the CDC has comprehensive statistical data.
- Roughly 113 suicides occur across the country each day.
- On average, a suicide occurs in the United States every 13 minutes.
- The suicide rate in the USA is 12.6 deaths per 100,000 citizens.
- Suicides result in a combined total of medical and work-related financial losses of over $50 billion annually.
Suicide and Mind-Altering Substances
Over 50 percent of all people who commit suicide have some type of mind-altering substance in their systems at the time of their deaths:
- Alcohol – 33 percent
- Opiates – 20 percent
The data regarding opiate use among individuals who take their own lives is a few years old. The CDC believes the percentage of people with opiates in their systems that commit suicide has likely risen in the past two to three years, and perhaps significantly so. In some cases, the opiates associated with a suicide victim have appropriately prescribed medications (pain killers). More often than not, opiates were obtained illegally and include heroin. In other cases, the opiates were obtained legally, but abused by the user.
Gender and Suicide
There are marked differences between genders when it comes to suicide.
- Men represent nearly 80 percent of all suicides in the United States.
- Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for men, the fourteenth for women.
- Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
- Firearms are the most common suicide method for men at 57 percent of all cases.
- Poisoning is the most common suicide method for women at 35 percent of all cases.
Suicidal Thoughts and Nonfatal Suicidal Behavior
Among people over the age of 18 in the United States, a notable percentage of individuals contemplate or attempt suicide in any given year, according to the CDC:
- Approximately 9.3 million adults report having suicidal thoughts during the course of a year.
- Over 7 percent of adults between the ages of 18 to 25 report suicidal thoughts.
- 4 percent of adults between 26 and 49 report suicidal thoughts.
- Approximately 3 percent of adults over the age of 50 report suicidal thoughts.
Keep in mind that these statistics are likely lower than the actual count. These statistics represent individuals who self-report suicidal thoughts. Due to social stigma, embarrassment, and shame, many individuals likely fail to respond honestly when questioned about suicidal thoughts.
Approximately 1.5 million people over the age of 18 attempt suicide annually.
Among high school students, the rate of individuals contemplating suicide is higher than that associated with adults:
- 17 percent of high school students seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months.
- 22 percent of girls and 12 percent of boys contemplate suicide each year.
- Nearly 14 percent of high school students went so far as to formulate a plan to commit suicide.
- 8 percent of high school students made a suicide attempt in the past year.
- Nearly 3 percent of these suicide attempts resulted in an injury to the young person that required medical attention.
As with adults, suicide ideation and attempts are underreported among high schoolers for a host of reasons.
In all age categories, 494,169 were treated for self-inflicted injuries in 2013. This includes people who were hospitalized for their injuries as well as those who were treated in emergency departments and released.
Suicide Support Services
Suicide Prevention Center
672 S La Fayette Park Place
Los Angeles, California 90057
Suicide 24-Hour Crisis Intervention
4760 Sepulveda Boulevard
Culver City, California 90230
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline