The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that close to 800,000 people take their own life every year which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more people attempt suicide. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds globally in 2015.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015:
- Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 44,000 people.
- Suicide was the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34.
- There were more than twice as many suicides (44,193) in the United States as there were homicides (17,793).
Who is at Risk?
While the link between suicide and depression, alcohol and drug use is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.
In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior. Suicide rates are high amongst vulnerable groups who experience bullying and discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners.
By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.
Breakdown by age:
Data are shown for all ages and select age groups where suicide was one of the leading ten causes of death in 2015.
“Suicide Statistics” (taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2015. Suicide rates listed are Age-Adjusted Rates.)
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Each year 44,193 American die by suicide.
- For every suicide 25 attempt
- Suicides cost the U.S. $51 billion annually
- The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.26 per 100,000 individuals.
- Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.
- On average, there are 121 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015.
- Firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.
Suicide Rates by Age
In 2015, the highest suicide rate (19.6) was among adults between 45 and 64 years of age. The second highest rate (19.4) occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2015, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 12.5.
Suicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity
In 2015, the highest U.S. suicide rate (15.1) was among Whites and the second highest rate (12.6) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (Figure 5). Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Hispanics (5.8), Asians and Pacific Islanders (6.4), and Blacks (5.6).
Note that the CDC records Hispanic origin separately from the primary racial or ethnic groups of White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander, since individuals in all of these groups may also be Hispanic.
In 2015, firearms were the most common method of death by suicide, accounting for a little less than half (49.8%) of all suicide deaths. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hangings) at 26.8% and poisoning at 15.4%.
No complete count is kept of suicide attempts in the U.S.; however, each year the CDC gathers data from hospitals on non-fatal injuries from self-harm. 494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. This number suggests that approximately 12 people harm themselves for every reported death by suicide. However, because of the way these data are collected, we are not able to distinguish intentional suicide attempts from non-intentional self-harm behaviors.
Many suicide attempts, however, go unreported or untreated. Surveys suggest that at least one million people in the U.S. each year engage in intentionally inflicted self-harm.
Females attempt suicide three times more often than males. As with suicide deaths, rates of attempted suicide vary considerably among demographic groups. While males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide, females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males. The ratio of suicide attempts to suicide death in youth is estimated to be about 25:1, compared to about 4:1 in the elderly.