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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 (202 Responses)
  1. Bob Needham

    I wish this was news, but sadly there is nothing new about it. 33,000 die each from suicide alone in the United States; and the World Health Organization estimates that in excess of 1 million a year die worldwide.

    May 14, 2010 at 05:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. jennie

    I believe a correlation between suicides out numbering homocides can be attributed to the fact that a great proportion of teens are on psychotropic meds: meds for depression & anxiety. It has been clinically established that teens on such meds have a higher rate of suicide. We must also factor in the toll our economy has taken upon many people: job loss; loss of a home; and investment debacles w/c hv left so
    any people in financial ruin. Additionally, the manner in w/c the US treats its mentally ill is broken. I do not believe smoking is the root of the problem.

    May 14, 2010 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ray - London

    Barry,
    Banning alcohol has already been tried and the results were disastrous, remember Prohibition? Smokers DO kill themselves... slowly, and all those around them as well.

    I have no "quick fix" solutions either. The scourge of suicide cannot be attributed to a single cause. It is multi-faceted and interwoven with many catalysts and each person's unique reaction to them.

    May 14, 2010 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Wayne from Belleville, Ontario, Canada

    I'll bet considering the age, gender, and ethnicity, many of the suicides are related to divorce, and the loss of the matrimonial home, contents, children, and the responsibility of support and alimony payments. Considering men get screwed in divorce/separation proceedings, it is provable that I am right.

    May 14, 2010 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. David

    Barry I suffer from depression and if it were not for the relief I get from getting drunk now and then I would have killed myself long ago.

    May 14, 2010 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Becky

    This is incredibly sad. I feel like many of us ignore it when people are depressed because we feel like we can't do anything.

    May 14, 2010 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JohninTampa

    The proof is in the pudding, Barry. ALL smokers want to kill themselves, that's why they smoke. They just do it slow and ugly because they're too cowardly to do it quick.

    May 14, 2010 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. oxbobend

    Lets just make it illegal and hire more cops. Prohibitions seems to work so well for everything else. they would not committ suicide if it were illegal would they? We need to make the punishment for suicide much harsher. That will surely stop them.

    May 14, 2010 at 06:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Todd

    Ban Alcohol...you're not serious are you - I think the US tried that awhile back and it failed miserably. You might want to check the constitution about that - but I'm pretty sure I'm right. I'd like to see your facts that alcohol IS the number #1 factor. I think if you look at any study its depression and not alcohol.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Derrick

    I am extremely saddened to hear something like this but I have to remain but skeptical about Dr. Gupta's reporting and his analysis...

    May 14, 2010 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. steve

    Tax alcohol and you get higher amounts of illegal substances sold. If you can't get one type of drug, you substitute. That's the life of a drug addict. There shouldn't be any advertisements for alcohol, and these companies should be forced to funding the AA groups because of their products addictive and life ruining substances. It's time big companies take responsibility for the lives and families they ruin. A simple warning ot drink responsibily isn't enough.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bert

    Hmmm... Most of the people I know drink. They're all alive, so I can't agree that alcohol is the #1 factor. As a former smoker, I can attest to the fact that smokers DO kill themselves eventually. It's a slow suicide.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. gary worchel

    Hey let's come out with 50,000 more prescription drugs thats will prevent so many suici-wait, what was wrong with the ones they were all taking?

    May 14, 2010 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Men are the majority victims

    Based on the statistics from this CDC report, 82% of all suicides are
    committed by men. That makes men 4.6 times more likely than women to commit suicides.

    As the report states, two thirds of all suicides are related to depression. A CDC survey from 2008 reports that 6.7% of women
    and 4% of men in our society suffer from depression (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db07.htm).
    What is of interest here is that although women suffer from depression more often than men (by a 70% margin), depression in
    men has far more tragic consequences than it does in women.

    The photo shows a woman looking ominously at a bottle of pills.
    Perhaps having a man in the picture would have given a better sense
    of the nature of the problem.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim

    While these data are of great concern and scary it is not out of the norm as nationally we traditionally have had over the years in excess 30,000 suicides each year. In turn the homicides have significantly dropped from 24,456 in 1993 to around 16,000 in 2008.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Byron

    I'd be curious to see the historical trends of suicide rates vs. Financial markets starting with the Great Depression. Is there a notable increase of suicides with downward markets? If so, by what factor? It would also be helpful to see rate of suicide by population as well as actual numbers. Can you please get on that? 😉 Thanks!!

    May 14, 2010 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rh

    I wonder how many of those suicides would have taken people with them had circumstances been different, like the sickos in China with schoolkids.

    May 14, 2010 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Amanda Walton

    Unfortunately Dr. Gupta I'm not surprised and only pray both these statistics would be the only thing we can say died off. Prayers and wishes for more awareness, I have HOPE if we all can learn to 'give a helping hand' these stats even world wide will be a stat of the past and a future we can all live happily ever after.

    T.G.I.F. Dr. Gupta and many wishes blown your way to you, your loved ones and the many you can call your family. & H.A.N.D. 🙂

    May 14, 2010 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Daniel E Fall

    Smokers don't kill themselves? This is not a factual statement. A much more factual statement is society has not done a super job of treating mental illness.

    The Wellstone Parity Act of 1996 was a baby step in the US recognizing the need to treat these illnesses. And that wasn't even 20 years ago.

    There is still a horrible social stigma attached to mental illness. This doesn't help treatment.

    And for people that become mentally ill, successful treatment often results in relapse because people think they are better, then slip back and don't even know it.

    Mental illness is sometimes a cause of alcoholism, not just an effect, so crediting alcohol fully is also absurd.

    Get to your doctor when you have feelings about hurting yourself or someone else.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Otis

    If alcohol is the number one cause. Increasing the price will only lead to more bums and suicide. Less jobs for nobody would want to go to the bar on a Saturday night and more stress in most peoples lives.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. heather

    very sad. it does seem like there's been a lot of those happening though. if you think someone you know might be suicidal, talk to them! chances are they won't ask for help directly.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mike

    They do tax alcohol, and we saw how well the ban worked last time. Maybe you should google things before you come here and verbally drool all over my internet.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. James

    "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." Sounds like lack of perspective is a very important factor. Thinking that things will not get better?

    May 14, 2010 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Melissa

    Smokers just endure a long painful death and make the decision to die that way every time they light one up!

    May 14, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Walter

    Given the age range of the group with the highest suicide rates, that being 45 to 54 year old males, it looks like the eonomy is still playing a role. When someone in this age range gets laid off from work, they still have financial obligations such as a mortgage and possibly putting kids through college. Yet it's also a difficult age, as many employers don't always consider hiring someone in that age group, opting for someone younger. I'm wondering how many opt for suicide in the hopes that the life insurance payoff will cover their family's needs for the next several years.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Ben

    Alcohol is what depressed people turn to in an attempted escape from their problems, it is not what makes people depressed and suicidal. The root of the problem is typically deep rooted in their mentality and outlook on life, a good psychiatrist is what they need, along with an environment thats both positive and safe.

    We are seeing a new rash of suicides that are a resultant from people wanting to escape the consequences of their actions because they've lost their family's life savings with bad investments, bought houses they can't afford, or feel they've let down the ones they love and wish to escape the embarrassment and shame they feel for it.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Jon

    Alcohol and drugs aren't to blame; that's short-sighted, bombastic answer to a multifaceted problem. While they are no doubt associated with people trying to escape personal misery, and while some people's suicides may be causally linked to some sort of addiction problem, that is hardly a blanket explanation for such a complex phenomenon. Also, such a response commits the egregious error of dubbing suicide "bad," as though suicides and homicides are comparable in any other way besides mortality statistics. Having one's life taken at the end of a knife versus taking one's own life is not a 1:1 comparison. Sometimes, suicide is the correct answer for an individual; being alive isn't "more correct" than being dead as a default, absolute rule.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mark Johnson

    Americans are under an ever increasing amount of stress coming at them from many different directions these days. All the while, mental health gets short shrift when it comes to treatment and the sheer cost of proper health care in this field is such that it leaves a great many out in the cold, whether they be insured or not. I am not surprised that this witch's brew circumstance coupled with a failing economy is driving more people take their own lives. It is truly sad.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Peter Biondi

    A guy in my church commited suicide a few years ago. I believe he gave many clues he was going through problems but people neglected him. Churches are very interesting, when you are doing fine everyone is your friend, if you go through problems you are alone. Try to have an appointment with a pastor. He will probably be busy getting fat on a nice restaurant or playing Golf at 3 PM with good rich Christian friends. I wish churches could be churches again just like Jesus designed them to be. " Keith Green wrote : " God sent people to your door and you turn them away and then you smile and say "God bless you, be in peace, and don't help them.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Chris

    Smokers don't kill themselves? What a tremendously insightful way to begin comments on this story! Brilliant! Just brilliant!

    May 14, 2010 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Really

    SMOKERS Do kill themselves just doing it a lot slower .....!!! A close friend is what a lot of the people needed... If you hear a friend is in need LISTEN !!!!

    May 14, 2010 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Michael

    Something is terribly wrong these days. Teenager's are taking their own lives not only in increasing numbers, but in disturbing ways. When kids starting joining together to stand in front of a train, we have a problem!!!!!!!!!

    May 14, 2010 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Music

    Depression and anxiety (which is massively underdiagnosed) are terrible to live through, and I think people who commit suicide are often victims of these diseases. Unfortunately, most of "undepressed" society isn't very tolerant or sympathetic, and people rarely reach out to those in need. People who come across as depressed or anxious are often shunned, so they learn to hide it. Many counselors are terrible (sorry, but it's true) and antidepressants can have severe side-effects. There are no simple solutions, but we can try to reach out to those who seem lonely and become friends with different kinds of people, not just the "happy perky" folks. Reach out to someone you think is depressed or anxious– don't ignore them hoping the problem will go away. And parents, teach your children all of the many important things in life and how to enjoy a balanced life. Straight A's, money, and status symbols are not important. Balance, spending time with family, friendships, hobbies, rest, enjoying the little things and realizing you don't have to obsess about grades, salary, etc. are the most important.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Cody

    Why am I not surprised? Have you lived life, at all? It's not all that great.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jeff1977

    Alcohol and drugs are huge factors in suicides, but I believe financial problems and family break ups are also a huge factor in suicides. Also there is so much mental illness out there not being detected and there fore not being treated. Its real sad

    May 14, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Melissa

    I would like to reply to Barry's comment he posted. Alcohol is the number one factor, but the only reason people are drinking it in the first place is because they areeee depressed. So why make them pay more for something that's the only thing they know how to deal with. Seeming i don't see you walking around and trying to help every suicidal person out there? And it's wrong to even tax the h*ll out of someone due to their physical dependencies? How mad would you be if the government started taxing something that you enjoyed doing in your life? i bet it would take the fun right out of it. I can honestly say, i am depressed, and when people talk about depression and its clear they have no idea what the heck they are even talking about, it makes me angry. Especially when they try to find reasons, like alcohol and drugs. its not all based on that at all. i know tons of people who are also depressed and not a single one of them drinks or smokes or shoots drugs. None of them do. They have had crappy lives and they need someone to talk to, not someone telling everyone to ban something that may even give them a little relief. Its honestly not what you believe, it's what the person who's feeling depressed. Let them deal how they want to without any problems. You cannot help someone who won't allow themselves to be helped. TRUE STATEMENT!

    May 14, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Bob in Cedar Rapids

    Many times, suicide is born out of depression and anxiety. These symptoms are usually overstated in a person's life. In essence, they are lies. These lies are generated, not from the person who is suffering from them but from an outside, intelligent source. Information simply does not come from inanimate objects. It MUST come from an intelligent mind. This is lying information that is being communicated to this person's mind. It is almost always kill your self or kill someone else. Why can't these voices induce a person to, say, weave a basket or go help someone with their yard for example. It is always kill yourself or some one else. There is truly a demonic influence at work here that psychiatrists are woefully unable to deal with. This is why they introduce chemicals into the person's system to mitigate the effects of a devastating spiritual problem. Jesus Christ offers the ONLY solution out of this since He dealt with demons on a regular basis. Face Him now or face Him in eternity as your Judge.

    May 14, 2010 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. StrangerKaine

    Alcohol being used for blame is rediculous Barry. Why do people continue to blame one substance or another for our troubles or woes is beyond me. As a person who has travled the globe and been around supposed "druggies" and alcoholics all my life I find that people who are stressed are stressed long before the substance abuse entered thier lives. They are stressed because employers ask for hours and hours leaving us no time for our children and families. They are stressed because society makes rules about blacks, whites, fatties, stoners, lesbians, gays etc and we stick them in antisocial positions where it is easy for us throw stones at them and thier children then wonder why some of us are F*cked up and hate ourselves. Barry, alcohol and drugs are self medication abuse. The real problem is what are they self medicating for?

    May 14, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. CJ

    Smokers don't kill themselves? Are you serious? Smoking is a like a very slow suicide and a lot more painful one near the end. Have you ever been around someone who is going to die of lung cancer?

    May 14, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Nate

    handguns make it to easy

    May 14, 2010 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Brent

    Moral of this story . . . If you hate someone bad enough you wish to kill them, save yourself from life in prison by waiting for them to do it for you.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Fred

    In a culture of hopelessness, it is not hard to see why some people resort to violence, either against others or against the self. A broken government, schools that imprison the creative minds of young people, religions that protect the violent and promote self-hatred....all of these and more leave homes, families, parents and children bewildered, isolated and looking for a way "out". Often, the most vunerable take the gun and end it in a futile attempt to escape the pain of hopelessness. "Where there is despair, let me bring hope." We need more leaders who can step up to the immense task of repairing this culture.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Chris L.

    Barry, please cite your source as to why you believe "ALCOHOL is the NUMBER #1 Factor...". I assure you, it is not. Many people are just depressed, lonely, anxious, or have a bevy of other mental disorders that cause chaos in their lives. I have dealt with depression for the past 15 years of my life, and alcohol and/or drugs were never a determining factor as to how I felt or what I did while feeling this way.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Tracy

    I see the numbers as too low. Let the weak links find the exit door and pay them no mind. I have no pitty for them.

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

    Barry, smokers do kill themselves. They just do it the slow painful and expensive way.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Lowell

    We should ban depression, It would get rid of close to 100% of the problem. Actually, more should be done for prevention of depression – diet, networking and balance of life. We do not take life seriously as Americans. When somebody has decided to take drugs or alcohol, it is generally a little late for prevention. My heart goes out to the families who have lost someone.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Kenneth

    Barry, drug and alcohol abuse are symptoms of a deeper problem, not the cause of suicide. If people are abusing those things, it is usually in an attempt to cover up, mitigate or deny deeper emotional/mental troubles. If a person commits suicide after substance abuse, it is because those substances were no longer "doing the trick" for them.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Rhonda

    These statistics are not surprising at all to mental health advocates. If only our elected officials would provide more funding on the federal, state, and local level for mental health services maybe we could change this trend.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. kiso

    Considered suicide at one time after business collapsed. Started studying Christian Science....it brought me comfort, peace and healing....would recommend it to anyone seeking answers.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Debbie

    I am a survivor of suicide (SOS) who lost my 24 -year -old son who was Bi-Polar to suicide in 2007 and I also lost a long time Army buddy to suicide the following year. Losing someone this way is a hard thing to deal with but there are local Survivor of Suicide and other groups there to help those that are left behind. It's something you never get over but you learn to cope. If you are thinking about suicide please seek professional help. If someone even mentions suicide to you even in a joking manner - get them help or take them to an emergency room where those who know how to deal with it can help. I couldn't save my son and my friend's mother couldn't save him....but maybe you can save someone else.

    May 14, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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