The CDC released its mortality report including the most recent data related to suicide in the U.S. for the year 2018. According to the new data, suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death, and the rate of suicide in 2018 increased by 1.4 percent. In 2017, the last year the CDC released mortality data, there were 47,173 suicide deaths; in 2018 there were 48,344: an increase of 1,171 additional deaths.
Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, Vice President of Research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released the following statement about the new CDC data:
“This increase in the suicide rate is very disappointing. Suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. However, there is a reason for hope. The 2018 mortality data is showing a smaller percentage increase when compared to last year’s mortality data report – a 1.4 percent increase in 2018 versus an almost 4 percent increase in 2017.
Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state, and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States. Suicide is preventable. As a nation, we must take action by making a major investment in suicide research; translating that research into treating mental health; and further educating the public on the warning signs of suicide and what to do if someone is struggling.
Three ways we believe we can lower the suicide rate:
- People must be able to access affordable, comprehensive health care, including mental health care that specifically addresses suicide prevention. (In the vast majority of cases, research shows that 90 percent of the time when someone dies by suicide, they have a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.)
- Training for primary care physicians and all clinicians must be offered in how to better screen for mental health and suicide risk; and how to detect risk and provide lifesaving treatment.
- We need to improve our understanding of help-seeking and how to have caring and informed conversations about mental health.
As a nation, we need to significantly increase our investment in science, education, and advocacy, in order to expand effective suicide prevention efforts. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.”