Rates and Statistics for Suicide in the United States

Caucasian man laying on bed
Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich/Getty Images

Suicides in the U.S. have been on the rise, up 33% from 1999 through 2017, and the pace of the increase has been rising since 2006. In 2016, suicide ranked as the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. It is the second leading cause of death for those under the age of 35.

The annual suicide rate in the U.S. is over 14 deaths per 100,000 population.

Nearly 45,000 people died from suicide in 2016. According to the CDC, one person dies from suicide every 12 minutes.

The Suicide Rate

The suicide rate is the number of completed suicides per 100,000 people. Attempted suicide is not counted in the suicide rate. The CDC reports that 9.8 million adults in the United States seriously thought about suicide, 2.8 million people made a plan, and 1.3 million attempted suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathers data from hospitals on cases of self-harm and of suicide each year. They have data for all age groups and demographics. However, some consider the number to be low because the stigma still surrounding suicide can result in underreporting.

Suicide Rate Statistic Breakdowns

When the suicide rate is broken down by demographics, important information can be observed. For example:

  • The suicide rate is four times higher for males than females. In the U.S., male deaths make up almost 80% of all suicide deaths.
  • Suicide is attempted three times as often by females. Females are also more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
  • Firearms are the most common cause of death for males.
  • Poisoning is the most common cause of death for females.
  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual kids are three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual kids.
  • 41% of trans adults attempt suicide.
  • The suicide rate is 1.8 times in rural areas than in urban areas. 
  • The suicide rate is highest among middle-aged white males. A 2015 study in the Proceedings of the Natural Sciences found that the suicide rate among white, middle-aged American men has increased dramatically in recent years.
  • Among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death across all ages. For the age group 15 to 34 of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide jumps to the second leading cause of death.

Suicide statistics by age group have been consistent for several years. Broken down by age group across all racial and ethnic groups, suicide as a leading cause of death ranked as follows:

Age Group Leading Cause of Death
10-14 Third
15-34 Second
35-44 Fourth
45-54 Fifth
55-64 Eighth
65 and older 17th

Suicide is expensive—costly not only in the emotional toll it takes but also for its real financial impact. The estimated loss is over $50 billion in medical costs and lost work.

How the United States Compares

The World Health Organization reports that nearly 800,000 people die worldwide each year from suicide. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24.

A 2019 report published in The BMJ found that the global suicide rate has dropped by almost a third since 1990. The study found that while the actual number of suicides increased during this time, the suicide rate dropped from 16.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1990 to 11.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

These global declines in suicide deaths are largely attributed to drops in the suicide rates in China and India. Other countries including the United States, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, and Belize all experienced significant increases in suicides, however.

Depression and Suicide

Depression and suicide are linked, with an estimate that up to 60 percent of people who commit suicide have major depression. However, millions of Americans have depression and this figure doesn't mean most people with depression will attempt suicide.

Research suggests that the majority of suicides are related to a psychiatric condition, including depression, substance use disorders, and psychosis. Estimates suggest that the suicide risk for mental disorders including depression, alcoholism, and schizophrenia is around 5-8%. However, while many people who commit suicide had symptoms of a mental condition, it is important to note that most people with symptoms of mental disorders do not commit suicide.

Depression and Suicide Warning Signs

There are warning signs you can watch for in those who may be at risk of attempting suicide. Though there is no single type of person who may commit suicide, and the symptoms below are not exhaustive, these are the most common signs observed among people who may be contemplating taking their own life.

  • A change in personality, especially behaviors in social situations
  • Withdrawal from interaction or communication with others
  • Mood changes that are drastic, such as being very low mood one day to being in a very high mood the next
  • Triggers such as life crisis or trauma in a person who is already suffering from depression
  • Threats of suicide, or expressed negative wishes regarding life, such as wishing they'd "never been born"
  • Giving away cherished belongings to friends and loved ones
  • Deep depression observed that affects their ability to function socially or in the workplace
  • Aggressive or risky behaviors, such as high-speed driving

What to Do

If you or someone you know is depressed, there are effective treatments available.

  • Talking to your doctor is a good first step. Your primary care provider can offer support, treatment, and referrals to a mental health professional for other treatment options, which may include antidepressants and psychotherapy.
  • If you need help finding a therapist, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers an online search tool to help find professionals in your area.
  • Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness to learn more about support groups that you might find helpful. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources