Suicide attempts on the rise in US, finds study

September 13, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New data confirm that suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, with a disproportional effect on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults with a history of mental disorders. The study, by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in JAMA Psychiatry.

"Attempted suicide is the strongest risk factor for suicide, so it's important that clinicians know just who faces the highest risk so that we can do a better job of preventing suicides from happening," said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at CUMC and lead author of the study.

Between 2004 and 2014, the annual suicide rate increased from 11 percent to 13 percent per 100,000 people. While the increase in suicide attempts mirrors this national trend, the study revealed some important differences in risk factors for attempted suicide versus completed suicide. For example, while middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate, young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts. And while suicide attempts were higher among women than men, more men completed suicide.

The study is based on National Institutes of Health surveys performed in 2004-05 and again in 2012-13, in which nearly 70,000 adults answered questions about the occurrence and timing of suicide attempts. The study period included the economic downturn beginning in 2007.

In the 2012-13 survey, respondents who were unemployed, less educated, and had lower family income were significantly more likely to report a recent suicide attempt.

The two groups shared several clinical risk factors, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. A history of violent behavior or self-injury also increased risk for suicide attempt or suicide.

"The patterns seen in this study suggest that clinical and pubic health efforts to reduce suicide would be strengthened by focusing on younger patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and psychiatrically distressed," said Dr. Olfson.

Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry at CUMC and former American Psychiatric Association President commented that "Dr. Olfson's report provides a warning signal of the harmful consequences of ignoring mental illness and an exhortation to improve mental health care in the U.S.

Explore further: Older adults may need better follow-up after ER screenings for suicide

More information: JAMA Psychiatry (2017). doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2582

Related Stories

Older adults may need better follow-up after ER screenings for suicide

August 9, 2017
According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates for men over the age of 70 are higher than in any other group of people. In 2015, almost 8,000 older adults committed suicide in the U.S., and the proportion of suicides ...

Risk of suicide attempts in army units with history of suicide attempts

July 26, 2017
Does a previous suicide attempt in a soldier's U.S. Army unit increase the risk of other suicide attempts?

Arthritis linked to suicide attempts

June 15, 2016
One in every 26 men with arthritis have attempted suicide compared to one in 50 men without arthritis. Women with arthritis also had a higher prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts than women without arthritis (5.3% vs 3.2%), ...

Broader firearm restrictions needed to prevent suicide deaths

July 4, 2017
Limiting firearm access only for persons with a mental health condition or those who previously attempted suicide likely is not enough to reduce suicide deaths. The brief research report is published in Annals of Internal ...

Parents' psychiatric disease linked to kids' risk of suicide attempt, violent offending

August 31, 2016
Risk for suicide attempts and violent offending by children appears to be associated with their parents' psychiatric disorders, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

Young people with chronic illness more likely to attempt suicide

August 17, 2017
Young people between the ages of 15 and 30 living with a chronic illness are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their healthy peers, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Recommended for you

How the shape and size of your face relates to your sexuality

September 19, 2017
Men and women with shorter, wider faces tend to be more sexually motivated and to have a stronger sex drive than those with faces of other dimensions. These are the findings from a study led by Steven Arnocky of Nipissing ...

Behavioral therapy increases connectivity in brains of people with OCD

September 19, 2017
UCLA researchers report that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, when treated with a special form of talk therapy, demonstrate distinct changes in their brains as well as improvement in their symptoms.

Cognitive scientists find that people can more easily communicate warmer colors than cool ones

September 18, 2017
The human eye can perceive millions of different colors, but the number of categories human languages use to group those colors is much smaller. Some languages use as few as three color categories (words corresponding to ...

Why bad sleep doesn't always lead to depression

September 18, 2017
Poor sleep is both a risk factor, and a common symptom, of depression. But not everyone who tosses and turns at night becomes depressed.

Happiness is not determined by childhood biomarkers

September 18, 2017
Happiness is not determined by childhood biological markers such as height or body fat, according to a team of European researchers involving UCL.

People with schizophrenia have threefold risk of dying

September 18, 2017
People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die, and die younger, than the general population, indicating a need for solutions to narrow this gap, according to research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.