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

Before assigning responsibility, our minds simulate alternative outcomes, study shows

October 17, 2017
How do people assign a cause to events they witness? Some philosophers have suggested that people determine responsibility for a particular outcome by imagining what would have happened if a suspected cause had not intervened.

Schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication system, researchers say

October 17, 2017
Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

For older adults, volunteering could improve brain function

October 17, 2017
Older adults worried about losing their cognitive functions could consider volunteering as a potential boost, according to a University of Missouri researcher. While volunteering and its associations with physical health ...

Magic mushrooms may 'reset' the brains of depressed patients

October 13, 2017
Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a 'reset' of their brain activity.

Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier

October 13, 2017
A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers' homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban ...

Scientists researching drugs that could improve brain function in people with schizophrenia

October 12, 2017
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are testing if drugs known as HDAC inhibitors improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia who have been treated with the antipsychotic drug clozapine.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2017
Suicidal ideation can be alleviated by administering 250mg of healthy adult male facial skin surface lipid pheromone p.o. Avoid the emotionally dangerous undetectable airborne vapors (fume hoods, respirators, patient isolation, high speed fans, etc.) which limits this research to "cranks" like me.

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.