A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that suicide rates have jumped 24 percent over the years between 1999 and 2014.
The study published late Thursday showed that rates increased sharply after 2006, as the economic boom of the late 1990s faded and the onset of what became the 2008 recession began.
Suicide rates for all men under age 75 shot up 43 percent between 1999 and 2014.
Among women under 75, the rate of increase was greatest among women between the ages of 45 and 64. The suicide rate among those women was 80 percent higher in 2014 than in 1999.
The results show the traditional gender gap in suicide rates narrowing: while men usually are more likely to commit suicide than women, the rate of women who took their own lives grew much faster than among men.
Change in methods
Methods of suicide have also changed, although men are still more likely than women to use a firearm, the study says, with some 55 percent choosing that method in 2014. Among women, 31 percent used a firearm, slightly less than the number of women who chose poisoning.
Suffocation is more common now than in 1999, increasing from one in every five suicides in 1999 to one in four in 2014.
Suicide rates, US, 1999 and 2014
In one piece of good news, the suicide rate for non-Hispanic black men was actually lower in 2014 than in 1999 - the only ethnic group of either gender to see rates fall.
While the overall numbers may seem grim, experts say most people who try suicide will not succeed, meaning efforts to dissuade a suicidal person are important. Research suggests that removing the means to take one's own life, such as a firearm or poison, can be an effective remedy for the immediate problem, making long-term treatment a possibility.
The CDC said that suicide is increasing at a time of generally declining mortality, and is one of the 10 leading causes of death in each age group from 10 to 64 years old.
- From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24 percent, with the pace of increase greater after 2006.
- Suicide rates increased from 1999 through 2014 for both males and females and for all ages 10–74.
- The percent increase in suicide rates for females was greatest for those aged 10-14, and for males, those aged 45-64.
- The most frequent suicide method in 2014 for males involved the use of firearms (55.4 percent), while poisoning was the most frequent method for females (34.1 percent).
- Percentages of suicides attributable to suffocation increased for both sexes between 1999 and 2014.