Suicide Rate in Women Jumps by 50%

Rates of suicide continue to rise for both women and men in the U.S., according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Drawing from the same data used in a “Vital Signs” report released last week, NCHS researchers found a 30% increase in the overall age-adjusted suicide rate from 2000 to 2016.

Since 2000, there was an average 1% increase in the suicide rate each year up until 2006, when the suicide rate then increased to 2% annually through 2016, reported Holly Hedegaard, MD, of the NCHS Office of Analysis and Epidemiology in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues.

Over the past decade, suicide has been ranked as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. across all ages. However, in 2016 it became the second leading cause of death among individuals 10 to 34 years of age.

“Although the Healthy People 2020 target is to reduce suicide rates to 10.2 per 100,000 by 2020, suicide rates have steadily increased in recent years,” the authors warned.

Although this increase was seen in both sexes, women had a notably steeper rise in suicide rate during this time — a 50% increase from 2000 to 2016, and increases were seen across all age groups. For the first several years, women saw an average 2% annual increase in suicide rate, which then jumped to a 3% annual rise from 2007 on.

Among the age group with the highest suicide rate, women 45-64, the rate increased from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2000 to 9.9 per 100,000 in 2016.

The method used for suicide also tended to vary according to age group in 2016. Among girls ages 10 to 14, 70% of suicide deaths were due to suffocation. This method was also the most common among the 15-24 age group, accounting for 44% of suicides, followed by firearms (29%). For women 25 to 44 years of age, the most common method was firearms, accounting for 32% of suicides. However, poisoning was the most common method for women 45 years of age and older (40%), followed by use of firearms (32%).

Among men there was a 21% overall increase in the suicide rate from 2000-2016, rising on average around 2% each year, which then remained stable from 2002 to 2006. After 2010, the increase slowed to a 1% rise each year. Rates rose across all age groups except the 75-and-older age group, which dipped slightly.

While the suicide rate for men rose less sharply during this period, suicides in men are still far more common, with a male-to-female suicide rate of 3.6 in 2016.

The method for suicide among boys ages 10 to 14 in 2016 was equally split between suffocation and firearms (48% each), but firearm use was more common with increasing age:

  • 15-24 years of age: 51% of suicides involved firearms
  • 25-44: 48% involved firearms
  • 45-64: 55% involved firearms
  • 65-74: 74% involved firearms
  • 75 and older: 81% involved firearms

Poisoning was an uncommon means of suicide among men.

Hedegaard’s group analyzed data from the National Vital Statics System, which included information on cause-of-death mortalities. Suicides were determined according to ICD-10 codes.

Death by poisoning included involvement of drug and non-drug means, such as toxic substances and gases. Suffocation was defined as hanging, asphyxiation, or other means to restrict oxygen. Other methods of suicide — which were generally less common in both sexes — included cutting, jumping, fire-related incidents, use of hot substances or liquids, and involvement of vehicles.

Report authors are employees of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. None of them reported any conflicts of interest.

2018-06-14T00:01:00-0400

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