Suicide rates drop for second straight year

Suicide rates drop for second straight year
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The overall suicide rate in the U.S. dropped for a second straight year in 2020 after climbing for two decades, according to preliminary data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The National Center for Health Statistics data released Wednesday counted almost 46,000 suicide deaths last year, amounting to a 3 percent decline compared to in 2019, despite the pandemic’s expected effect on the rate.

Among men, the suicide rate reduced 2 percent between 2019 and 2020, and women saw a drop of 9 percent in the time frame. The rate fell among women from all racial and ethnic groups, although only the 10 percent decline among white women was statistically significant.

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But other populations, including younger adults, Blacks, American Indian and Alaskan Native, and Hispanics, saw increases.

The data found slight rises in suicides among younger Americans ages 10 to 34, but only the 5 percent increase among those ages 25 to 34 was considered significant. 

The drop comes after experts warned the pandemic increased risk factors associated with suicides, including mental health conditions, substance misuse, job stress and financial stress, sparking concerns that the rate would jump. 

In fact, the number of suicides was lower last year in each month between March and October, as well as December — all during the ongoing pandemic. In April 2020, when many states had stay-at-home orders, the provisional data shows a 14 percent decrease in suicides compared to the previous April.

But the analysis of 99 percent of death records shows that the suicide rate remains higher than every other year before 2017 in the past two decades. The rate had increased 35 percent between 1999 and 2018 before a 2 percent decrease in 2019.

“Suicide is a complex, multifaceted public health issue with societal, environmental, interpersonal, biological, and psychological components,” the report’s authors wrote.

The delay in reporting suicide deaths is longer than other causes of death, as data is collected after a six-month lag after the death because of the required investigations, the CDC noted.