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May 13th, 2010
05:20 PM ET

CDC: Twice as many U.S. suicides as homicides

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

In 2007, the number of suicides was twice that of  homicides  based on  statistics from 16 states, according to a report released Thursday by  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
CDC: National Suicide Statistics at a Glance

The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that there were 4,563 homicides and 9,245 suicides in the 16  states.

Suicides occurred at higher rates among men, American Indians, whites and people between the ages of 45 and 54 years.  This was a shift, because previously,  people over age 80 typically had had the highest suicide rates, according to the report.

Problems leading to suicide may be related to mental health, jobs, finances, or relationships or crises occurring two weeks prior, according to the CDC report.  Mental health problems were the most commonly noted circumstance for suicide.

Among the deceased who had mental health problems,  74.9 percent had received a diagnosis of depression/dysthymia, 14.5 percent had been bipolar disorder and 8.1 percent had an anxiety disorder, according to the report.   About 20 percent had a history of previous suicide attempts, 28 percent expressed their intent prior  and about a third left a suicide note.

And sometimes, there were no answers.   CNN.com recently reported the story of a mother whose son committed suicide talked about how her  straight-A son in 11th grade took a gun to the train tracks and shot himself  without any warning.
CNN.com: Parents of suicide find 'immediate bond' in each other

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soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. M

    Depression and recent crisis as defined by person's ability to cope is the #1 factor. Interesting to see the age group change, in the past elders then teens were the age group most likely to complete an attempt. There is too much social taboo about suicide. The facts need to be out there, such as it does not mean people will think you are an alcoholic, and we need to talk about suicide, help resources, and how to recognize and help a person who is reaching out.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. lisa

    Last month I lost 3 people to suicide. All separate incidents and families, all different ages, all a surprise. Starting to feel like an epidemic. Heartbreakingly sad.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Brad

    The unfortunate reality is that suicide is cheap. When smokers are busy killing themselves it is a lot more expensive – and yes, they are killing themselves.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike Hodnett

      You are such a stupid person, I actually dislike you already.

      December 4, 2012 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
  4. Al from the Yak

    Until our so-called American Leaders wake up and deal with the truth about AMERICA, there will be too many who give up on what THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD about what America is, who they are and what they should or should not be doing. I for one believe that if a person does NOT believe in a Higher Power, that person will NOT be able to adjust to the changes that are a part of this Life, World, Country, State, City and all the other categories that are used by People. A balance is needed in order to live and learn. Knowing that we will all die one day can be a sobering thought. Knowing that fact SHOULD allow one to find a balance between the Soul, the Spirit and the Body. Once THAT balance is achieved, one can find peace and become a part of a bigger Humanity where the Giving of Life is more important than the taking of that life which does NOT belong to the individual but to those who also believe in a Higher Power.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pinoybipolar

    those who decide to terminate their existence do so with courage and honesty. why keep on living, when life has become a bunch of lies and pretensions, because every one around has set expectations. failing to live up to those expectations mean alienation and even outright rejection. by trying to meet these expectations, lies are made and pretensions created. when life turns out to be a bunch of lies, then suicide becomes the most viable option.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Caleb

    So your saying that drugs and alcohol are the main cause of suicides in the US? You don't have any proof. I can guarantee that many of the people who committed suicide had issues they did not know how to deal with and they didn't feel they could take to anyone else.

    Get your facts before you go blaming something please.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Smoker

    Barry, hate to disagree with you hut as a smoker, I have to tell ya that smokers generally do kill themselves, just over a really long period of time. I want to quit very much but am extremely addicted, I know it's going to kill me one day yet i keep doing it, that is definitely a form of suicide.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tina

    It seems most American news programs focus solely on 'death and destruction'... perhaps that, CNN, is part of the problem... people are panicking with all the negativity surrounding them in the media.

    Of course there are many factors and causes (per Kant) to everything that happens... so we must not ignore obvious reasons like the recession, dimming hope for our environment, rising cancer rates, etc...

    May 14, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Shanna

    So does this mean that crazy white men killing themselves is a bigger problem than crazy black men killing each other? Its funny how media has made us believe otherwise

    May 14, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Hannah

    One in four in the US have a mental health problem. And are we addressing this and trying to find the cause and the cure? Mental illness has always been swept under the rug, had a stigma attached and until we change some laws and deal with this huge prob,em in an open and honest way this will continue. And there must be many causes. One of them might be the economy. If you work all of your life and end up losing your home and your savings, life looks pretty bleak. I guess that's the American Dream?

    May 14, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jonathan

    I fall into the category of a recent major event happening, previous attempt and I am currently in a desperate situation where I lost my job and can not support my family any more. I immediately went to our local government paid counseling services and I can honestly say that if more people knew they had a place to go when things got rough, that these tragedies could have been avoided. I think counseling is great for everyone, not just those struggling because it's always good to have a third party who is unbiased to your situations that you can sometimes get invaluable advice from. After losing my job, things I blacked out as a child starting coming through in my dreams and then when I was awake. I thought it was just bad nightmares but I checked with family and apparently I had a childhood trauma I blacked out completely. It picked a great time to rear it's ugly head let me tell you! But the best advice I have received so far to date would have to be this, "Our bodies are a mysterious and wonderful things. Believe it or not, you are recalling these painful memories now because you are finally able to handle them." In a nut shell that gave me hope that I wasn't going to feel overwhelmed for too long, and usually lack of hope/serenity is what drives a person to do the unthinkable. I wish everyone out there peace and love, and I hope anyone who feels they need help, goes and gets it! It's a better first place to start than taking on everything alone.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Briggsy

    Can we see the statistics on the means used to commit suicide? Specifically, where do firearms rank? Guns in the hands of the general public is a terribly stupid American indulgence.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jimmy

    Barry – What if a smoker also drinks and/or does drugs? Cite your source that smokers do not kill themselves. Also, smokers do kill themselves, whether you won't face the facts, it does irreparable damage to heart, lungs and arteries. Keep smoking those cancer sticks so we don't have to listen to your incoherent rambling...

    May 14, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Carrie

    Smokers don't kill themselves? Really? My grandfather died from smoking-related lung cancer, my grandmother died from smoking-related lung cancer, my cousin just died from smoking-related lung cancer.

    With every cigarette, smokers take one more step towards death. It's a slow suicide, but it's still suicide.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike Hodnett

      But it does give them comfort, which many things don't. Smoking is legal and many find comfort in it. Lay off.

      December 4, 2012 at 00:33 | Report abuse |
  15. Nathan

    I think thats interesting. I wonder if those 45-54 year olds were related in some way to the 80+ group. That would be an interesting genetic experiment.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Paul

    Barry, it only took you 26 words to be wrong 3 times. The prime factors are untreated, undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed mental illness and stress. Usually precipatated by a recent crisis. Alcohol and drugs are often symptoms of someone trying to self medicate when they don't know how to get help. Don't go spreading your misinformation just because you don't like paying more for your smokes!

    May 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. KeithTexas

    I agree with Barry, I don't understand why there aren't enough taxes on alcoholic drinks to pay for the treatment of the people that can't handle it and become addicted. Drugs should be legalized and taxed as well. It wold be so much cheaper than this silly war on drugs that will never be won.

    Our Legislators want the tax money but they don't want to do anything good with it.

    But on the subject, I have suffered with depression through out my life and considered suicide but I don't think I was close to doing it. But being close enough to consider it, I understand how a person can get to that point of desperation. I believe we could do a lot with a reasonable program of public mental health care.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mike

    @Barry

    Smokers not only kill themselves slowly but surely they also can add to killing someone else with thier habit...

    May 14, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike Hodnett

      Many people smoke and it give them comfort. Self righteous people like you should be muzzled. I am sure you do many things that could be healthier but seeing your post you would never admit it as you are above it all right.

      December 4, 2012 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
  19. Dave

    I've always noticed in dealing with depressed or suicidal people that most of there observations about life and society are pretty accurate... I'd say more accurate than many non suicidal.. more hopeful people. I'd say that something gets screwed up in the theory. We're not given the tools to deal with truth in life. Those of us that don't figure it out on there own end up living a big lie, destroying themselves or both...

    May 14, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jim

    Alcohol is not the number 1 factor. Maybe in your experience, but Alcohol is just used as a coping mechanism, it's not the reason people get depressed and kill themselves. Thanks for the ingorance though.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Chris

    Smokers kill themselves slowly

    May 14, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Rafus

    Smokers don’t kill themselves!!!??
    That’s what they are doing every time they light up!!
    any ways, my co-worker had a good point, maybe the reason for this statistic is that people that commit homicides are gotten much better in making them look like a suicide!

    May 14, 2010 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ben Thomas

    Believe what CDC says about mental illness tied into depression and in turn suicide. Drugs and alcohol are the things masking a greater pain, not the culprits themselves. Rather than taxing those who reach out for things to numb the pain, more emphasis needs to be on awareness of family members of loved one's symptoms, and having health insurance not be such an enemy to diagnosis and treatment.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jayleigh

    Alcohol is consumed by a large part of society....where are your facts that say it is a factor. Your comment on smoking is not vetted as well. I am just saying jumping to conclusions causes more problems usually. I am Bi-polar and have complusion problems. I also drink responsibly.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Charles

    The main message here is to commit more murders.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jessica

    I had a cousin some years ago end his life. He had a beautiful family and a good job. I feel if he wouldn't have decided to abuse prescription drugs that night I don't think he would have over reacted to a disagreement he had with his wife and in the end wouldn't have put a gun to his chest. When this happend many of us wondered how one could do such a thing but after experiencing my bout with depression I have a better understanding. You at times just get to a point where you don't care about anything...not even the people around you that you know love you. You just get into this deep dark hole and the idea of getting out seems impossible. Anti-depressants are not always the answer. Sometimes it takes sitting back and thinking about what it is that is making you feel that way and then make changes. If anyone feels this way please speak to someone.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kathy

    One common factor that makes one a risk for suicide is the same factor that makes one more likely to be a victim of homicide and there is nothing that we can do about it. That factor is being MALE.

    Males commit 90% of all murders but males are their victim over 80% of the time. The 20% of the murders by women have the male the victim 3/4's of the time so a male is the victim of murder 9 out of 10 times. At least in side, the male is the one doing it only 5 times as often as women. When we consider this, why do males think they are the superior gender when so many things point to the fact that women are the superior gender?

    May 14, 2010 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Fred

    Alcohol and drugs are a form of self-medication, an attempt to treat the underlying mental illness for individuals who either won't accept a diagnosis of mental illness or for those unfortunate enough not to be able to afford access to health care.

    In other words, excessive alcohol or drug use/abuse is a SYMPTOM, not a cause.

    May 14, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Duke Liberatore

    A big part of the suicide problem is the recent skyroceting use of psychiatric medications. One of the most concerning side effects of these mind altering drugs is suicide. They are many times prescribed inappropriately without any attempt at counseling or natural remedies that are much safer. This connection between these drugs and suicide is often not only overlooked but intentionally hidden by Big Pharma who wants everyone drugged into oblivion. For more info on natural remedies and reporting of research that other health care care practitioners either don't know or won't tell you about visit:
    http://dukeandthedoctor.com/

    May 14, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. LYNN BRADLEY

    Unless or until you have personally lost a friend, family member or other loved one to suicide , you don't have a clue about how those left behind feel.

    My wife and I are just a few of the affected survivors of her brother's suicide in December 1996. It has taken her several years to come to grips and cope with her brother's suicide. We know of many others who struggle daily with their loss.

    We now facilitate a Suicide Survivors Support Group (SOS) and have since 1997.

    You can be a part of the solution. Prevention is the key:
    http://www.afsp.org
    http://www.spanusa.org

    I would not wish a suicide death in anyone's life.

    If you are suffering with this kind of loss there is help:
    http://www.thelink.org
    Great resource.

    LB

    There has been a 500-600% increase in the suicide rate in our county since October 2009.

    May 14, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Daniel E Fall

    All the people stating smokers do it the slow way are wrong.

    I know of a smoker that committed suicide about 6 years ago.

    And Tracy... Come on now, do you really hope more weak links check out? Is that so you could have a greater share of the resources? For every one person, you would be getting such a bigger slice of pie.

    Careful what you wish for cuz it comes around.

    May 14, 2010 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jackie Villani

    Thanks, Lynn Bradley, for your very true comments.

    I lost my husband, age 53, in June 2009 to suicide. Previous to his death, I lost my mom, dad and other family members to "natural causes". Suicide is a very different thing for those left behind. A "natural death" leaves one sad, but a suicide leaves one with thoughts of sadness PLUS questions, questions and more questions.

    My husband was a very intelligent, kind, giving person. I saw no signs of the impending suicide. He left a note, but it made no sense. It was a note filled with dispair and it was apparent that his thinking was very skewed on that day. Alcohol nor drugs (prescribed or illegal) were a factor.

    I immediately became involved in several different SOS (Survivors of Suicide) Groups. Somehow it helps to know that there are others out there and that my feelings of sadness, questioning, anger, etc. are not abnormal in my situation.

    I, like Lynn, would never ever wish a suicide death in anyone's life.

    Jackie Villani

    May 15, 2010 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. LockDeltz

    Byson is on point on why the suicide rate is so high in America. The pressure of paying bills, feeding a family, social issues, and and many other factors just takes it's toll on a person.

    People who are financially stable have happy lives, but there is a lot of Americas who barley get 30k a year, and with this terrible economy it just gets worse.

    May 15, 2010 at 05:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Satiyana

    I lost my mother at 11, another sister at 14, another sister from suicide at 19, another brother from suicide at 36, and my daughter died from spina bifida at 13. I have never or will never take anti-depressents, drink, or do drugs. I have a strong mind and refuse to let life beat me down. You just have to live the life that was given to you no matter what. Most of it is out of our control. We cannot stop what other people in our lives that we love do. Their minds were made up along time ago as was their own personal journey. Move on....Just keep living. There is nothing you can do about the past. Make a better future for yourself and try to be happy.

    May 15, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Kate Johnson

    I wonder what percentage of suicides are the result of chronic pain?

    I'm in pain most of the time from Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing Spondalytis and I've certainly thought about it. Without my faith, I think I would already have done it. Even with wonderful family support, chronic pain is incredibly difficult to live with. It steals so much from your life.

    May 16, 2010 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jeff S.

    If smokers are slowly killing themselves with each drag then the same is true with the poor diet many Americans have. Obesity will kill you faster than smoking and has even greater effect on your health. Next time you stigmatize a smoker take a look at yourself. Do you drive a car? That can be seen as suidal as the more you drive the better chance you could die. Do not know how the hell this turned into a anti smoking blog but grow up people. I have been dealing with depression most of my life and thoughts of suicide for about as long. I have tried and continue to try every option to try and find some relief. I do believe one major factor in the suicide rate is the disconnection that some of us have from society. To much technology replacing real human interaction. Family and friends are the most important things in a persons life. If not that person is likely to be in trouble mentally.

    May 16, 2010 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. MM

    Amen, Barry.
    I don't understand why alcohol is not taxed the way cigarettes are. When I was in college 20 years ago a 6 pack of beer was $5 or so, and it still is. A carton of cigarettes has more than doubled and no one kills themselves due to smoking–the same cannot be said about alcohol.

    May 16, 2010 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Glowbug

    Mental illness still carries a stigma–even with the therapy & drugs – depression is never totally controlled with meds–its only a help –insurance companies are allowed to limit visits to psychiatrists and psychologists–a psychiatrist is a medical doctor–why are insurance companies allowed to "limit" the number of visits for a med check? And you pay a higher copay for limited visits–some people have only their therapist to talk to and vent feelings that no one else wants to hear about or give support-your not suppose to be depressed in America because you have food, shelter and other necessacities –if you are depressed you are weak–depression is a biochemical condition and yes I agree there should be some way for your doctor to determine if the meds are actually increasing your serotonin levels–its all a guess–many of the meds are not good for your overall health–they increase weight gain- cause tremors – vision blurry – increase in sugar and cholestorol levels – etc. People roll their eyes if they hear bipolar–it can be treated but you need meds and psychological support and I don't mean venting at your friends–you need professional guidance and support it can literally save a life–when will their be parity for mental health with insurance companies? They allow moneys for infertility treatment–erectile disfunction- but for mental health –they will call inhouse treatments a "spa"? Its disgusting and beware once you tell a "friend" you have mental illness –they will be gone and avoid you–family members can be very unsupportive-how many times I have heard "don't let things bother you" They do not understand that not being able to function (hold a fulltime job) destroys you inside–most people have primitive ideas about mental health-and sometimes I find the people who most need help with mental health would never get help.

    May 16, 2010 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. sfoch

    1) Evidence for psych meds in decreasing suicide is quite good. For example, lithium creates a SEVEN-fold reduction in suicide rates in bipolar patients! It has been a God sent for patients since its introduction (if one could tolerate it).

    2) Substance use and suicide are related. There are many risk factors for suicide in the psychiatric clinical population (including major depression, severe anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder). The presence of substance abuse/intoxication dramatically increases the risk of suicide attempts. More directly, chronic substance/alcohol abuse and dependence are associated with the development of (or exacerbation of) other mental illnesses, including psychosis, anxiety, and major depression, all of which have higher rates of suicide in themselves. Substance abuse by itself without the presence of major depression is much less likely to lead to suicide [note: major depression here refers to major depressive disorder or "clinical depression" as differentiated from mild or everyday run of the mill or situational depression, which can be transient and short-lived].

    3) Psych meds do NOT cause suicide or major depression. Hundreds of studies on antidepressants over the last four decades have not led to this conclusion. There have been some of studies in the adolescent population in recent years that suggested an increase in suicidal thinking in the first two weeks of antidepressant therapy, and docs have been additionally cautious with this population; however, it is critical to know that the studies did NOT show an increase in suicide attempts or completions in adolescents, but suicidal thoughts. As treatment progresses, suicidal thinking goes down. Untreated major depression however is associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts and completed suicides.
    4) Unlike the general population, a large portion of psychiatric patients, including many of those with mood disorders, are cigarette smokers. Although I agree with the comments that 'Barry' is misguided in his thinking (the last thing we need are more smokers), but I also must disagree that smoking is "suicidal". Suicide is the deliberate ending of one's life. Most smokers do it because they enjoy, it is a (misguided) coping mechanism, and/or they are physically dependent on it. People eating daily at McDonald's will also certainly die younger, but it is not suicide in the clinical sense.

    May 18, 2010 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cmgdm

      Curious, are you in the Psych or Pharma field? I have a feeling we'll find out in a decade or so how much damage Psych drugs cause for those who don't need them. I realize that those with serious Psych problems need medication, but for the average person with a little depression or anxiety, meds are not the answer. I think meds for some people can throw them into a tailspin. Our brains are not meant to be altered by chemicals and no one can really say for sure how they work and why. This is scary!

      June 29, 2010 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
  40. PAUL GOLDSTON

    I LOST A GOOD FRIEND IN GRADE SCHOOL I WAS 13 OR 14
    FRIEND OF MINE , MOTHER PRESSURED HIM O A STATE BEYOND BELIEF , SO WE WERE GRADUATING FROM JUNIOR HIGH TO HIGH SCHOOL , I THOUGHT I HAVE A FRIEND TIL I GOT TO COLLEGE, WELL IT DIDN;T HAPPEN , HE HUNG HIMSELF IN SKYLIGHT , AND HE WROTE , I CAN;T DEAL WITH THIS PRESSURE I WANT TO END IT ALL , SO HE DID , I OFTEN WANDER WHAT MAKE PEOPLE AT THAT AGE DO THIS , BECAUSE PEER PRESSURE OR JUST GIVEN UP. ITS VERY SAD , I STILL WALK
    BY THE HOUSE TODAY , WISH I COULD;VE SAVE HIM FROM THE DEMONS WITHIN .NOW I'M A COUNSELOR FOR SUCIDAL TEENS
    SO FAR I'VE SAVED 25 THIS YEAR AND HOPE TO SAVE MORE.

    June 13, 2010 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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