Following the deaths of famous chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade this week, many Americans probably intuitively believe that rates of suicide are increasing. And as it turns out, rates of suicide have climbed by 30% since 1999, with sizable gains seen across age groups and sexes. Furthermore, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about half of people who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition like depression - even though depression was once believed to be the primary cause, NBC News reports.
The CDC also notes that relationship stress, financial troubles, substance abuse and other issues contribute to the trends.
"From 1999 to 2015, suicide rates increased among both sexes, all racial/ethnic groups, and all urbanization levels," the CDC researchers wrote in their report.
As NBC News points out, the high-profile suicides of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and other middle-aged men and women have prompted many to wonder if their age group is at higher risk for suicide. The simple answer is yes.
"Middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing," said CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
Interestingly enough, the only age group that is exempt are people over the age of 75. Across the US, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in 2016. Meanwhile, suicide rates have increased in every state since 1999, with the exception of Nevada, which already had one of the highest rates in the country. Western and Midwestern states like Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas and Oklahoma saw some of the biggest increases in suicide rates.
Firearms were the most common killing method, used in nearly half of all suicides, and in 55% of suicides where there was no mental health condition diagnosed. Where it could, the CDC dug further to find more data on suicides. Here's what they found.
42% had a relationship problem
28% had substance abuse issues
16% had job or financial problems
29% had some kind of crisis
22% had a physical health issue
9% had a criminal legal problem
You will find more infographics at Statista
The problem, doctors say, is that finding mental health treatment for people can be difficult even for those with health insurance. Even for those who can afford treatment, it can be difficult to find the correct approach. Researchers noted that suicides saw the largest increases during economic downturns.
"I have been learning as a nation we have seen increases and decreases over time in suicide," said CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat. "Increases mostly seem to correlate with economic downturns." The fact that the economic downturn hit rural states the hardest - and that's where the biggest increases in suicide rates were found - is hardly a coincidence. The social media era - where people do most of their interacting online - is also leading to an increase in isolation that could be playing into rising suicide rates.