Suicide attempts among adults in U.S. on the rise, study finds

NEW YORK — A new study finds that suicide attempt rates among American adults are on the rise.

Researchers at Columbia University looked at survey data of more than 70,000 adults derived from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which spans the full decade preceding 2014. They found that over the duration of the period examined, the number of suicide attempts increased by 11 to 13 percent per 100,000 people.

Person attempting suicide
A new study finds that the number of American adults who have tried to take their own lives is on the rise.

This percentage increase mirrors a similar increase in the number of successful suicide attempts, the researchers noted.

Middle-aged adults, aged 45 to 64, were the group with the most successful attempts, while young adults — those aged 21 to 34 — were the most likely to simply attempt suicide, regardless of the outcome of the attempt.

Those who were unemployed, uneducated, or had a low socioeconomic status were most likely to report an attempt through the NIH survey, the researchers found.

Some of the common health risk factors among those who attempted suicide were substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

“The patterns seen in this study suggest that clinical and public health efforts to reduce suicide would be strengthened by focusing on younger patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and psychiatrically distressed,” argues Dr. Mark Olfson, the study’s lead author in a press release.

Of Olfson’s report, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, said that it “provides a warning signal of the harmful consequences of ignoring mental illness and an exhortation to improve mental health care in the U.S.”

Earlier this year, a study found that suicide-related cases were on the rise at children’s hospitals.

In terms of prevention, recent research also discovered that simple interventions, such as phone calls to check in, from friends or family members for those struggling with mental health are effective ways in preventing people from trying to take their own lives.

Olfson and his colleagues published their findings yesterday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.


  1. One cannot live without money. Being in the age group of 55 – 65, I have found myself in a situation where no one wants to hire an experienced and knowledgeable employee. My assets are gone. I am out of money and will be in trouble when the rent is due on Oct 1. So, what is a woman to do at that point in time? I will not be living in a shelter with the dregs of society. That is certain. Death, and rebirth in another dimension, looks attractive. My soul screams for release.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. There comes a point in time when we all meet our maker. I have no fear of that, but, I truly resent the conditions that illegal governance has created for me. My question is “do I want to continue to struggle in a world ruled over by psychopaths?”

          1. Why do people think that death is death? Your soul does not die….only the vessel carrying it dies.

        1. what bothers me about suicide is that it’s entirely probable to end up in a worse situation from an action you can not go back and fix.

          1. People that survive suicide never meant to kill themselves. They simply called out of help in an odd sort of way. Those that succeed meant to leave this awful experience on Earth.

        2. I completely know how you feel…………the corruption is so deep and thick as to take away hope…………at that point, you have to quit listening to the news and politics so much………….it’s an unhealthy place to be.

    1. I wish you well and peace——though I have no real answers
      I’d like to say turn the suffering into a path for spiritual growth but that is very difficult in most situations and being alone with little idea of how to do that can be trying.

      1. I am a student of quantum consciousness and have been shown the spiritual world. Humans, most generally, have no clue as to who God is and what he represents.

        1. for me, I read and study the teachings of the Buddha…………
          the conduct/ethics is almost identical to Christianity, although the Buddha said he found no evidence of one God, ruling everything………..
          the more I study, the more complex the whole system seems to be.
          but it does give comfort……

    2. I hear you Dianecee. I’ve always said that if I’m really broke by 50 and prospects for life look dim, I will look for the nearest gun or bridge. I hope things get better for you! If not, then may there be peace and hopefully some comfort in the afterlife.

  2. Revealed: How thousands of Germans committed mass suicide as Allies approached in the final days of WWII

    Up to 2,000 killed themselves in German town in final days of Nazi rule
    Manfred Schuster witnessed the mass suicide in Demmin at 10-years-old
    70 years on recalls horror of seeing mothers kill themselves and children
    Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies just days after the tragedy

    Read more:

    1. And? Sounds like it is a tiny fraction of Japanese who did. That is less than Okinawa alone. And that is just counting civilians which themselves are only a tiny fraction of intention 80% to 100% fatal risk taken by many times more combatants. About 4,000 kamikaze pilots killed themselves. Combatants from all sides engaged in suicidal missions. Thermopylae was a major strategic success but for the Spartan force it was certain suicide. Masada was a suicidal ending for combatants and civilians.

      The Japanese did it the most, and next the Germans because they themselves had engaged in genocide or at best enslavement against virtually all conquered civilians. The Japanese’s prostituted — in continual gang rape until the girl or woman died — hundred of thousand of girls and young women in areas they conquered. So these particularly vicious Japanese and Nazi empire cultures expected they would be treated the same (they were not).

      1. Alive and safe, the brutal Japanese soldiers who butchered 20,000 Allied seamen in cold blood

        By NIGEL BLUNDELL Last updated at 17:53 03 November 2007

        Read more:

        “Many of the Japanese sailors who committed such terrible deeds are still alive today,” he said.

        “No one and nothing has bothered these men in six decades. There is only one documented case of a German U-boat skipper being responsible for cold-blooded murder of survivors. In the Japanese Imperial Navy, it was official orders.”

    1. Well given what the Japanese and Nazis did to people in places they conquered (genocide, enslavement, forced mass prostitution) why would their expectations fom being occupied be any different? (Even though US/UK occupation did turn out to be very different and profoundly benign in comparison.)

      1. “Felton said: “Most disturbing is the Japanese amnesia about their war
        record and senior politicians’ outrageous statements about the war and
        their rewriting of history.

        “The Japanese murdered 30million civilians while “liberating” what it called the Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere from colonial rule. About 23million of these were ethnic Chinese.

        “It’s a crime that in sheer numbers is far greater than the Nazi Holocaust. In Germany, Holocaust denial is a crime. In Japan, it is government policy. But the evidence against the navy – precious little of which you will find in Japan itself – is damning.”

        Read more:

    1. What about poor parenting and raising a generation where everyone was told they are a winner. These kids now go out to the real world and find they don’t all win all the time and they can’t handle it. Meds and poor parenting are clearly the issue here. Thank you liberals

  3. Studies that do not differentiate between suicide attempt and suicide gesture are next to useless. And the new trend toward lumping gestures in with attempts as the studies cited in this article do will always inflate the numbers and make them useless in trend analysis.

    A gesture is an act without intent to commit suicide. It is a cry for attention. Less than 1% result in completed suicide, and there is also very little correlation in either cause or result between gestures and actual suicide attempts and successful suicides.

    We also now know that certain countries, like the US, likely do not have higher than mean developed nation suicides, but simply have less of an undercount due to firearms suicide virtually always being classified and tabulated as suicide, whereas other methods methods have about a 50% misclassification as “accident” or “undetermined” and are likely undercounted by 50% or more.

    Extensive studies in Australia show when you remove firearms it looks like suicide rate goes down, but this is completely replaced by immediate increase in self caused death ruled accidental death — meaning either:
    a) people become suddenly fatally clumsier when you remove firearms (not likely), or
    b) you simply sweep suicide under the rug by moving it to means that are much more likely to be ruled accidental death

    1. I just looked at some of that peer reviewed work in Australia. It is interesting because people who are not experts in suicide are lauding their removal of guns as a cause of a major decline in suicide, but the studies by the actual suicide specialists there show no overall decline.

      It looks like the reason the apparent but false decline occurred has to do with the way suicides are determined by medical examiners. In the case of self-inflicted gunshot they begin with presumption of suicide and need strong evidence to the contrary to change it. In the case of other means of self inflicted death, such as overdose, drowning, single vehicle into object etc, they begin with presumption of accident and need strong evidence to move from that initial presumption.

      it is interesting that the peer reviewed science clearly shows no reduced suicide whatsoever when access to firearms was literally halved in a very very short period of time. Yet pro-gun control studies published in the US use Australia’s raw and now known to be incorrect low numbers to incorrectly claim otherwise.

        1. Agreed. I have a few Australian friends who have remarked that the confiscation of firearms may have impacted gun murders, but also had the unintended result of a sharp increase in other violent crime–much of which was accomplished with a firearm, an illegally-owned firearm. Seems that the old adage “Only the crooks will have guns” holds true there as well as here. If they can’t get one, a baseball bat, board, hammer, crowbar, machete, etc., will do nearly as well.

    2. Firearms are a special case because even the claims there are more completed suicide per attempt/gesture are suspect. If you are using a gesture to call for attention, due to feeling ignored or insignificant, due to bad breakup, debt, etc, you will pick anything for that gesture, with the exception of a gun.

      If you want sympathy or attention, which drives most attempts, taking a bottle of Advil, or threatening to jump from a window, or mildly cutting ones arms or legs, and calling a suicide hotline or a friend/relative who then call first responders, results in a the outcome you intended. If you instead take a gun and have someone call the cops, there is agood chance they will shoot you, and even if they do not shoot you end up going to jail with a lifelong felony criminal record in most cases. So I do not believe the claim that firearms are more dangerous because they result more often in completed suicides. They just tend to represent more competed suicides. Firearms or availability of firearms does not cause any additional suicide.

  4. This world is depressing and cruel. No one asked to be here, but we should all have the right to go when we are ready…the most basic and fundamental freedom, that of release. Doctor-assisted suicide should be a human right, and we should celebrate those who have the courage to make the decision.

    1. Well I will disagree somewhat.

      but lets agree that a 70-year-old man with stage 4 cancer deciding to shoot himself fatally is not anyone’s business and not an indication of any private or public health issue. But that this is not at all the same thing as a 20-year-old girl who is say temporarily but acutely overwhelmed by academic and social issues, taking a fatal overdose or jumping from a building.

      1. Right, but a doctor/therapist would never sanction the procedure for someone like the student in your example.

    2. I fully agree Virtually Yours. This world is run by sociopaths and greedy idiots, who care about the migty dollar and little else. Companies are often run by sociopaths who don’t care about the worker, and society seems angry and discontented as a result. With cost of living going up all the time and uncertainty everywhere you go, among other depressing problems, people absolutely should have the right to see a doctor for assisted suicide. After all, we all gotta die someday anyway. Great post.

      1. Large governments run the world more than corporations, and those governments take more and more money from people driving up the cost of living. They also don’t care about the worker.

  5. 13% of 100,000 is 13,000. So you are telling me out of each 100,000 people, 13,000 attempt suicide. Did you get an “F” in math or do you just not know how to perform percentages? How is it no one else noticed this HUGE error?

    1. they are saying that is the percent increase. So if the rate was 1 in 1/100,000 they are saying it went up to 1.1/100,000.

      More importantly they are
      a) lumping in gestures
      b) not taking into account at all that there is more money than ever for reporting.

  6. I wonder how much the rate is rising among chronic pain patients. The DEA and AMA seem single-minded in their pursuit of abusers of opiate-based pain medications, unmindful of the negative effects it has on actual pain patients and their doctors alike. There is periodically a lot of attention paid to the “22 veterans commit suicide every day”, which is also shameful in such a wealthy, developed country. PTSD and assorted mental illnesses, I’m sure, but given the continual lack of decent medical care by the Veteran’s Administration, I’m not sure why this would be surprising.

    But back to pain patients…over the last few decades, we’ve moved steadily away from a results-based treatment mode, to more of a “diagnose and prescribe” mode; we don’t “fix” patients anymore, we simply throw drugs at symptoms and see what sticks. This has resulted in a huge, and growing, population that has chronic health issues, many of whom depend on pain medications to remain functional enough to support themselves and their families.

    My own family doctor, who I came to in desperation because I was getting no help from the VA doctor, is nearly ready to throw his hands up in despair; the DEA is floating the idea of requiring pain patients to travel to their doctor every week to pick up the prescription and hand-carry it to the pharmacy to be filled. For patients that are mobility-impaired and in pain, this is just one more blow from an establishment that seems more interested in catching criminals than caring for patients. My local doctor simply does not have the staff to handle the burden of ever-increasing regulations.

    Apologies for the wall of text, but I think the growing problems with our system of medical care may play a part in this up-tick in suicide/attempts. Personally, I’m just entering my 60’s and face the next 15 to 20 years with not much to look forward to other than ever-increasing pain levels which medicine seems loathe to address, and government only cares about “catching the bad guys”. I would not seek death, because I love my family and would never hurt them. But I can honestly say that death would be a huge relief for me. I wonder if StudyFinds will address this aspect of it.

    1. Combat veterans do not commit suicide at higher rates than the identical gender, age, employment status, education level, rural or non rural cohort that has never been in the military.

      For example combat veteran are more likely to be male, an already elevated risk, more likely to be rural, an already elevated risk.

      There is one cohort and one cohort only of military veterans that has any elevated suicide rate over the same demographic civilian cohort: NON combat veterans who have served 9 months or less in the military. Only veterans how have never seen combat have a higher rate of suicide than their non veteran equivalents.

      OK, so that seems counter intuitive at first, right? Military veterans who serve a full military term, and who are deployed to combat zones, and/or see combat, commit the least suicide.

      It seems counter intuitive unless you have been in the military and see who washes out and/or who has serious problems and because of mental problems, existing before they ever joined, being diagnosed while in the military and discharged early but still be “military veterans.”

      If you take two men age 24, both say from L.A. with a high school education, and both employed at the time one joined, one who has joined the Army, served two combat tours, been in firefights, and one who never served at all in the military, or two men from rural Michigan, or two men from suburban Atlanta, and also the same, there is NO increased risk

      Men who have seen combat are also not more likely to commit violent crime or domestic abuse than men who never served in the military.

      The sole risk group that has above the median suicide and violence against others risk is the group that got discharged early and never served in combat.

      1. That is interesting, I was not aware of the distinction. My Dad and his generation tended to go quietly on about their business, and rarely spoke of their experiences. Even my Mom didn’t learn of what happened to them until Dad was much older. The younger vets around here are pretty quiet about their experiences as well. My youngest served on the DMZ for several years; when he was preparing to exit the service and return home, they literally tried to push him to take anti-depressants, even though he was not depressed. Go figure. Anyway, what you say makes sense. I remember several young women in boot (many, many moons ago!) that I was amazed even got through MEPS, much less a month or so into boot camp, before “wigging out”. Their recruiters should be flogged, imho, for trying to get these people into the military. But that’s just my opinion, of course. Your points are logical, thank you for presenting them.

  7. Isnt there a racial component to the increase in suicides that the author is sidestepping? I’m pretty sure the increase has been mostly by middle aged white men. What does it say about society that the most prosperous privileged group on earth is checking out of the system designed and maintained for their benefit?

    1. I’d be interested in seeing statistics broken down by age and race. I would imagine that, since nearly half the white population is white males (whites still being the majority ethnic group) it would stand to reason that that group would have the highest increase. Then perhaps you could ask yourself if your assumption that our society was designed to benefit that group is, in fact, correct. Or if it is designed to benefit government and corporate interests, and the average white guy just happened to be the group being vilified the most by the new intersectional post modern activists? Which might support an increase in that group attempting/achieving suicide? Add in the feminazis who maintain that guys are pretty worthless in the first place, and are the sole reason women were ever “oppressed”, and accelerated the destruction of the traditional family unit, and you actually have a lot of moving parts to unpack. I think the issues are a bit more complicated than “white guy privilege”, but hey, what do I know?

      1. I live in america (or I should say the USA) so there is no debate that it was founded and designed for the benefit of white males. It’s just history. You seem to want to have it both ways, you want identify as white and beleaguered by non white males (who have no power to impact white males in any measurable way). the same time pretending government and corporate interests arent also white male run institutions maintained for the benefit of white males. Basically you’re saying an increase in white male suicides is attributable to the way non white males

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