Suicide rates rising across country, CDC says

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Suicide rates rising across country, CDC says
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday said between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates rose across the United States.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday said between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates rose across the United States.

"When I got to the point of making a plan and getting my weapon, I realized this was serious. Over time, I figured out and learned through trial and error what worked for me to get past that feeling," said Mike Bushman of Naperville.

Bushman struggled with thoughts of suicide. Now an avid hiker, he offered and analogy.

"Every step feels like it's an uphill stretch, but you just keep going and keep going and eventually you get to that summit, and the view when you get there is just spectacular," he said.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. The others are Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.

Overall, the rate rose to 15.4 per 100,000 in 2014-2016 from 12.3 per 100,000 in 1999-2001. Rates ranged from 6.9 per 100,000 in the District of Columbia to 29.2 per 100,000 in Montana.

Wisconsin and Illinois saw an increase from 19 to 30 percent. Indiana was even higher, experiencing an increase of suicides from 31 to 37 percent.

Twenty-five states saw percentage rate increases of more than 30 percent over the 17 years.

There were nearly 45,000 suicides in 2016. Middle-aged adults - ages 45 to 64 - had the largest rate increase, rising to 19.2 per 100,000 in 2016 from 13.2 per 100,000 in 1999.

But local mental health advocates said they are also seeing younger people struggling with suicidal impulses.

"It's so tragic to see young people without hope and without feeling they have an opportunity to live a fully functional life with treatment," said Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance of Mental Illness Chicago.

The overall data came from coded death certificate records. The information on contributing factors reflect what family and friends told coroners and police in a subgroup of states participating in the CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System. In the one-year analysis of 27 states, opioids were found in 31 percent of the 3,003 suicides involving drug overdoses.

The CDC said the 27 states represent nearly half the U.S. population but cannot be considered nationally representative.

If you know someone at risk of suicide, there are five steps you can take:

1. Ask them if they are thinking about suicide

2. Keep them safe, and possibly remove items that can harm them. The CDC said firearms are the most common methods of suicide.

3. Be there with them, and listen to them.

4. Help them connect to support

5. Follow up to see how they're doing.

"We want them to have people they can call and contact both professional, and friends and family. We call it a care plan, and it's a way for people to stay safe when they feel suicidal urges come out," said Scott Langernecker, Illinois chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

A plan, because there is hope out there.

"It's really realizing that is' worth that fight, because it really is a fight," Bushamn said.

Suicide is preventable, and it's rarely caused by a single factor. In fact, there can be many reasons - relationship problems, facing a crisis, or substance abuse. It's important to talk about this issue, and end the stigma.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Talk: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Suicide Prevention Resource Center - Illinois Resources

The Associated Press contributed to this report.