NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What Pattern For Suicide?

September 27, 1999

Trying to develop a profile of those who are likely to take, or attempt to take, their own lives is a difficult task. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to die by their own hand. While the U.S. suicide rate has been declining overall, it is up among young people.

  • Men are at least four times more likely to die from suicide in the U.S. than women.
  • U.S. suicides per 100,000 population declined from 12.1 in 1976 to 11.4 in 1997 -- but the rate has increased for youngsters between ages 15 and 19 by 14 percent, and by 100 percent for children between 10 and 14.
  • Suicide rates are highest among white American males age 65 and older -- with more than 6,300 of them taking their own lives annually.
  • Nevada, Alaska and Montana have the nation's highest suicide rates in proportion to population -- with the lowest rates in New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

Last year in the U.S., one-half million people made suicide attempts that were serious enough to warrant care in an emergency room. Some 30,000 attempts were successful.

Source: Kay Redfield Jamison (John Hopkins University), "A Relentless and Underrated Foe," Washington Post, September 26, 1999.


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