According to a sobering new study released by the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate in the U.S. increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014. During this time frame, the national suicide rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 people. To put this in perspective, the homicide rate in 2013 was 5.1 Americans per 100,000.
One of the most troubling groups to experience a spike? Young girls. About 150 girls 10-14 years old took their own lives ”” a 200 percent increase since 1999. Many psychiatry experts believe this increase may be due to factors like social media and cyberbullying.
Men have also experienced a dramatic increase in suicide rates. Male suicide rates rose by 62 percent from 1999 to 2014. It should be noted, though, that this doesn't mean men attempt suicide more often than women. Men die nearly 100 percent more often than women when they attempt suicide, as they usually die by firearm, whereas women tend to use poison.
Despite the fact that suicide rates have increased drastically in almost every group, the people that still face the greatest risk of dying from suicide are those who suffer from mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
Economic conditions are believed to play a large role in the current suicide epidemic. Groups that have suffered economically in recent decades, such as the white working class, have seen a significant spike in suicides.
And then there's the "Suicide Belt," a string of western states that all have an unusually high rate of suicide. The states in the belt include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. This may be attributed to the fact that these states also have exceptionally high rates of single, unemployed men who own guns.
With so many Americans dying each year by suicide, why isn't this epidemic getting more attention than, say, Zika, which has killed just one American but continues to dominate headlines? More than 40,000 Americans will die from suicide this year, yet it somehow doesn't frighten people as much as a mosquito-borne virus. Clearly, the stigma of suicide remains strong in the U.S., as does the feeling of hopelessness over how to prevent a death by suicide.
As Frederik Deboer wrote in an article for Business Insider, "Suicide is a crime with only a victim, no perpetrator, and thus no individual on which to place blame."