Skip to content

Suicide

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

Suicide is a major public health concern. Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States. Based on recent nationwide surveys, suicide in some populations is on the rise.

  • Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.
  • A suicide attempt is a non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt might not result in injury.
  • Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about, considering, or planning suicide.

Additional information about suicide can be found on NIMH’s Suicide Prevention Page.

Suicide is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), in 2014:
    • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 42,000 people.
    • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.
    • There were more than twice as many suicides (42,773) in the United States as there were homicides (15,809).
  • Table 1 shows the ten leading causes of death in the United States, and the number of deaths attributed to each cause. Data are shown for all ages and select age groups where suicide was one of the leading ten causes of death in 2014. The data are based on death certificate information compiled by the CDC.
Table 1 shows the ten leading causes of death in the United States, and the number of deaths attributed to each cause. Data is shown for all ages and select age groups where suicide was one of the leading ten causes of death in 2014.

View/Download PDF

Suicide Rates

Trends over Time

  • Suicide rate is based on the number of people who have died by suicide per 100,000 population. Because changes in population size are taken into account, rates allow for comparisons from one year to the next.
  • Figure 1 shows the age-adjusted suicide rates in the United States for each year from 1999 through 2014 for the total population, and for males and females presented separately. Data courtesy of the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC .
    • Over the past 15 years, the total suicide rate has increased 24% from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000.
    • The suicide rate among males has remained approximately four times higher (20.7 per 100,000 in 2014) than among females (5.8 per 100,000 in 2014).
Figure 1 is a line graph showing age-adjusted suicide rates in the United States for males, females, and the total population by year from 1999 through 2014.

View/Download PDF

Demographics

  • Because suicide rates take population size into account, they can be a useful tool for understanding the relative proportion of people affected within different demographic groups.
  • Figure 2 shows the rates of suicide within sex and age categories in 2014.
    • Among females, the suicide rate was highest for those aged 45-64 (9.8 per 100,000).
    • Among males, the suicide rate was highest for those aged 75 and over (38.8 per 100,000).
Figure 2 is a bar chart showing the rate of suicide within sex and age categories in 2014.

View/Download PDF

  • Figure 3 shows the rates of suicide within race/ethnicity groups in 2014. The rates of suicide were highest for males (27.4 per 100,000) and females (8.7 per 100,000) in the American Indian/Alaska Native group, followed by males (25.8 per 100,000) and females (7.5 per 100,000) in the White/non-Hispanic group.
Figure 3 is a bar chart showing the rate of suicide within race/ethnicity groups in 2014.

View/Download PDF

Suicide Rates by State

  • Suicide rates are not the same from state to state. Based on data from the CDC, Figure 4 shows a map of the United States with each state’s average suicide rate from 2004 to 2010 indicated by color. To learn more about national and state suicide rates visit the CDC WISQARS Fatal Injury Mapping  page.
Figure 4 is a United States map showing average suicide rate by state for combined years 2004 through 2010.

View/Download PDF

Suicide Method

Number of Suicide Deaths by Method

  • Table 2 includes information on the total number of suicides for the most common methods.
  • In 2014, firearms were the most common method used in suicide deaths in the United States, accounting for almost half of all suicide deaths (21,334).
Table 2 includes information on the total number of suicides for the most common mechanisms

View/Download PDF

Percent of Suicide Deaths by Method

  • Figure 5 shows the percentages of suicide deaths by method among males and females.
    • Poisoning was the most common method of suicide among females in 2014, accounting for about one-third (34.1%) of all female suicides.
    • More than half of male suicides (55.4%) in 2014 were firearm-related.
Figure 5 is a stacked bar chart showing percent distribution of deaths by mechanism among males and females for 2014.

View/Download PDF

Cost of Suicide Deaths

  • In addition to the emotional loss associated with suicide, there is also an economic loss as the burden of suicide falls most heavily on adults of working age.
    • Figure 6 shows the medical and work-loss costs of fatal injury by intent in the United States in 2013, reported by the CDC .
    • Suicide accounted for $50.8 billion (24%) of the fatal injury cost.
Figure 6 is a pie chart showing percent distribution of medical and work-loss costs of fatal injury by intent in the United States for 2013.

View/Download PDF

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among U.S. Adults

Figure 7 is a bar chart showing the prevalence of suicidal thoughts among adults age 18 and older in the United States for 2014. Prevalence data are shown for the overall population, by sex, by age, and by race/ethnicity.

View/Download PDF

  • Figure 8 1 shows that in 2014, 9.4 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts about trying to kill themselves, and 1.1 million adults aged 18 or older attempted suicide during the past year. Among those adults who attempted suicide, 0.9 million also reported making suicide plans.
Figure 8 is a Venn diagram where the outer circle represents the number in millions of adults who had serious thoughts of committing suicide and the overlapping inner circles represent the following categories of suicidal thoughts and behavior: (1) made suicide plans, (2) attempted suicide, (3) made plans and attempted suicide, and (4) made no plans and attempted suicide.

View/Download PDF

1 NSDUH Statistical Methods and Measurement

Population:
  • The survey participants are from a civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 18 years old or older residing within the United States. NSDUH does not ask adolescents aged 12 to 17 about suicidal thoughts and behavior.
  • The survey covers residents of households (persons living in houses/townhouses, apartments, condominiums; civilians living in housing on military bases, etc.) and persons in non-institutional group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming/boarding houses, college dormitories, migratory workers' camps, and halfway houses).
  • The survey does not cover persons who, for the entire year, had no fixed address (e.g., homeless and/or transient persons not in shelters); were on active military duty; or who resided in institutional group quarters (e.g., correctional facilities, nursing homes, mental institutions, long-term hospitals).
Survey Non-response:
  • In 2014, 29.7% of the NSDUH adult sample did not complete the interview.
  • Reasons for non-response to interviewing include: refusal to participate (21.6%); respondent unavailable or no one at home/not answering the door (3.3%); physical/mental incompetence or language barriers (3.8%).
  • People with suicidal behavior may disproportionately fall into these non-response categories. While NSDUH weighting includes non-response adjustments to reduce bias, these adjustments may not fully account for differential non-response by suicide behavior status.

If You are in Crisis

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255  Veterans Crisis Line 800-273-8255 

Additional Resources