US suicides increased in 2021, especially among teens, younger people
Suicide is a serious public health problem among all age groups in the United States and has particularly increased among youth aged 10 to 34 in 2021 after two years of decline, according to a new US report.
The Washington Post in a report based on an analysis of provisional data released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics said the 4 percent increase in suicide almost wiped out modest decreases in the two previous years.
The report notes “suicide in the United States, especially among people aged 10-34, is the second leading cause of death.” The US suicide rate resumed its upward climb in 2021 after two years of decline, with young people and men hit hardest by the persistent mental health crisis.
In the United States, suicide rates increased 35% from 1999 to 2018, then declined 5% through 2020 and increased in 2021, boosting the rate to 14 per 100,000 people, up from 13.5 in 2020, according to CDC report.
“A four percent rise is certainly disappointing,” said Christine Yu Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The rate for people aged 15 to 24 rose 8 percent and the rate for people aged 25 to 34 rose 4 percent. People in the 35-to-44-year-old and 65-to-74-year-old age groups also saw statistically significant increases.
When looking at suicides broken down by sex, in 2021, like many other years, male suicides outnumbered female suicides by about 4 to 1, the data show. There were 38,025 suicides among men and 9,621 among women.
Among women, the report found that the small increase in the 2021 women’s suicide rate was not statistically significant as the total number of suicides increased by 2% from 9,426 in 2020 to 9,621 in 2021, while the rate saw a statistically insignificant rise to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 from 5.5 per 100,000.
The new data also revealed an unusual monthly pattern for suicides, which typically peak in the spring months of April and May, according to Moutier. In 2021, the largest percentage increase in suicides over 2020 came in October, when 4,211 people died, 11 percent more than a year earlier.
“People with mental disorders are at higher risk, but we also know that if people can manage their mental disorders, they are at lower risk,” said Jane Pearson, an adviser on suicide research to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Many experts had expected to see an increase in suicides during 2020, the first year of the pandemic, which brought social isolation, economic insecurity and substance use worldwide. But suicides declined that year, only to increase in 2021, when coronavirus vaccines became widely available and many people returned to their pre-covid lives.