Suicide rates increased by about 25 percent across the United States since 1999, with about 45,000 people dying from suicides in 2016 alone, according to research by the US government.
The US suicide rate increased in every state between 1999 and 2016 and firearms were the most common method used by people to take their own lives, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
All states experienced an increase in suicides and 25 states saw a rise of 30 percent, the CDC found.
More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.
“These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us,” Schuchat said.
“Our data show that the problem is getting worse,” she noted.
Suicide rates increased the most in some Western and Midwestern states, which are generally rural, including Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Minnesota, as well as Kansas and Oklahoma.
The rate means that around 16 out of every 100,000 Americans will take their own life. Middle-age adults had the highest increase in suicides.
“This is a very important population right now in terms of national statistics,” Schuchat said, noting the high rates of drug overdose in this group as well as “deaths of despair” described in social science literature.
The economic recession of the late 2000s and the increase of drug addiction are some of the other factors leading to more frequent incidents of suicide, said Kristin Holland, a behavioral scientist at the CDC.
Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health said the new research should be taken “very seriously.”
“There have been previous reports recently that have shown suicide is one of the major contributors to a decrease in life expectancy in this country, which makes it even more alarming,” he said.
“CDC data shows that suicide happens to everybody,” he said. “Social and life and economic stressors are the ones that create the conditions for suicides to happen.”
The figures were released in the week when the deaths of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade brought the issue to the fore.