Suicide Attempts Among Adults In U.S. On The Rise, Study Finds

NEW YORK — A new study finds that suicide attempt rates among American adults are on the rise.

Researchers at Columbia University looked at survey data of more than 70,000 adults derived from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which spans the full decade preceding 2014. They found that over the duration of the period examined, the number of suicide attempts increased by 11 to 13 percent per 100,000 people.

Person attempting suicide
A new study finds that the number of American adults who have tried to take their own lives is on the rise.

This percentage increase mirrors a similar increase in the number of successful suicide attempts, the researchers noted.

Middle-aged adults, aged 45 to 64, were the group with the most successful attempts, while young adults those aged 21 to 34  were the most likely to simply attempt suicide, regardless of the outcome of the attempt.

Those who were unemployed, uneducated, or had a low socioeconomic status were most likely to report an attempt through the NIH survey, the researchers found.

Some of the common health risk factors among those who attempted suicide were substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.


“The patterns seen in this study suggest that clinical and public health efforts to reduce suicide would be strengthened by focusing on younger patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and psychiatrically distressed,” argues Dr. Mark Olfson, the study’s lead author in a press release.

Of Olfson’s report, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, said that it “provides a warning signal of the harmful consequences of ignoring mental illness and an exhortation to improve mental health care in the U.S.”

Earlier this year, a study found that suicide-related cases were on the rise at children’s hospitals.

In terms of prevention, recent research also discovered that simple interventions, such as phone calls to check in, from friends or family members for those struggling with mental health are effective ways in preventing people from trying to take their own lives.

Olfson and his colleagues published their findings yesterday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.