Depression and anxiety affect 20 million Americans and suicide kills 40,000 Americans every year. In the US, there are 105 suicides every day. And depression is more common than AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined. In 2011, 487,700 people were treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries.
Here are the sobering facts from the CDC:
- An estimated 8.3 million adults (3.7% of the adult U.S. population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year.
- An estimated 2.2 million adults (1.0% of the adult U.S. population) reported having made suicide plans in the past year.
- An estimated 1 million adults (0.5% of the U.S. adult population) reported making a suicide attempt in the past year.
- There is one suicide for every 25 attempted suicides
But even though it’s a common and serious problem, many people don’t know that much about depression and suicide—including who’s at the greatest risk, why, and when they are most likely to be vulnerable.
A few myths about suicide
Most people think the winter holidays are a risky time, but suicides are lowest in December and peak in the spring.
A family history of depression increases the chances that a child will suffer the same by a factor of 11. But families (and friends) can also play a significant role in preventing suicide. Strong social support is known to lower suicide risk.
Teenage suicides make headlines, but the elderly are more likely to take their own life than any other age group. At particularly high risk are white men over the age of 85, who have a suicide rate of 49.8 deaths per 100,000, compared with about 14 per 100,000 in people over 65, and 11 per 100,000 in the general population.
Still, teenagers remain a high-risk group. One in five high school students says he or she has considered suicide in the past year and 1 in 12 attempts to take his own life. (The suicide rate for 15- to 19-year-olds is 6.9 per 100,000.)
Mechanisms of Suicide
Method of suicide is influenced by gender. More women use poisoning while more men use firearms. Below is a bar chart from the CDC.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, people who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk.
Having no reason to live.
Being a burden to others.
Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means.
Withdrawing from activities.
Isolating from family and friends.
Sleeping too much or too little.
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
Giving away prized possessions.
Loss of interest.