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12 Aug, 2023 14:07

Sharp rise in American suicides – CDC

Experts suggest the figures reflect a worsening mental health crisis in the United States
Sharp rise in American suicides – CDC

The US suicide rate increased by 2.6% in 2022 to 49,449 people, according to statistics released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as official data continues to show an upward trend after numbers fell in 2019 and 2020.

The rise in 2022 follows a 5% increase in US citizens taking their own lives in 2021, with campaigners suggesting the figures reveal a worsening mental health crisis in the United States.

“Mental health has become the defining public health and societal challenge of our time,” Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a statement about the new findings. He called the numbers a “sobering reminder of how urgent it is that we further expand access to mental health care [and] addressing the root causes of mental health struggles.”

US adults aged 65 and above saw a precipitous 8.1% rise in suicides in 2022, to 10,433 cases. This reflects a continuation of historical data showing that the suicide rate in the 65+ age group has risen by 62% between 2007 and 2021, according to the CDC in June.

The research also indicated that the mental health crisis in the United States is an issue affecting all age groups. A survey conducted by the CDC in March shows that around one in three teenage high school girls said that they have contemplated ending their lives at some point. More than half – 57% – also stated that they feel “persistently sad or hopeless.”

“Nine in ten Americans believe America is facing a mental health crisis. The new suicide data reported by the CDC illustrates why,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said of the report, according to CBS on Friday.

Becerra added: “One life lost to suicide is too many. Yet, too many people still believe asking for help is a sign of weakness.”

June figures, also from the CDC, showed that nearly one in five (18.4%) US adults said that they had been diagnosed as suffering from depression at some point in their lives.

However, the survey also suggests that a person is more likely to be diagnosed with depression depending on circumstances, such as where they live. Just under 13% of Hawaiian citizens reported a depression diagnosis, compared to 27.5% in West Virginia, the CDC said.