Suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, according to a study from Columbia University Medical Center, and those at highest risk are young adults with mental disorders who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
“Attempted suicide is the strongest risk factor for suicide, so it’s important that clinicians know just who faces the highest risk so that we can do a better job of preventing suicides from happening,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at CUMC.
Researchers found that the suicide rate increased from 11 percent to 13 percent per 100,000 people between 2004 and 2014. While the increase in suicide attempts mirrors this national trend, the study revealed some important differences in risk factors for attempted suicide versus completed suicide.
For example, while middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate, young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts. And while suicide attempts were higher among women than men, more men completed suicide.
In a 2012-13 survey, respondents who were unemployed, less educated, and had lower family income were significantly more likely to report a recent suicide attempt.
“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,” said Olfson.
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Although many people believe suicide rates are highest in the winter months, especially around the holidays, suicide rates actually peak in the springtime. A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that suicides were most common in May and lowest in February.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide, which kills 44,103 Americans a year, is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Suicide kills more people than car crashes, and 90 percent of suicides have a mental disorder component, such as depression or bipolar disorder.