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and treatment of mental illnesses.

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 mortality data, suicide in some populations is on the rise.

Definitions

  • 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 the NIMH health topics page on Suicide Prevention.

Suicide is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2020:
    • Suicide was the twelfth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 45,900 people.
    • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-14 and 25-34 , the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
    • There were nearly two times as many suicides (45,979) in the United States as there were homicides (24,576).

Table 1 shows the twelve 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 twelve causes of death in 2020. The data are based on death certificate information compiled by the CDC.

Table 1

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Leading Cause of Death in the United States for Select Age Groups (2020)
Data Courtesy of CDC
Rank 5-9 10-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 All Ages
1 Unintentional
Injury
685
Unintentional
Injury
881
Unintentional
Injury
15,117
Unintentional
Injury
31,315
Unintentional
Injury
31,057
Malignant
Neoplasms
34,589
Malignant
Neoplasms
110,243
Heart
Disease
696,962
2 Malignant
Neoplasms
382
Suicide
581
Homicide
6,466
Suicide
8,454
Heart
Disease
12,177
Heart
Disease
34,169
Heart
Disease
88,551
Malignant
Neoplasms
602,350
3 Congenital Anomalies
171
Malignant
Neoplasms
410
Suicide
6,062
Homicide
7,125
Malignant
Neoplasms
10,730
Unintentional
Injury
27,819
COVID-19
42,090
COVID-19
350,831
4 Homicide
169
Homicide
285
Malignant
Neoplasms
1,306
Heart
Disease
3,984
Suicide
7,314
COVID-19
16,964
Unintentional
Injury
28,915
Unintentional
Injury
200,955
5 Heart Disease
56
Congenital
Anomalies
150
Heart
Disease
870
Malignant
Neoplasms
3,573
COVID-19
6,079
Liver Disease
9,503
CLRD
18,816
Cerebro-
vascular
160,264
6 Influenza & Pneumonia
55
Heart
Disease
111
COVID-19
501
COVID-19
2,254
Liver
Disease
4,938
Diabetes
Mellitus
7,546
Diabetes
Mellitus
18,002
CLRD
152,657
7 CLRD
54
CLRD
93
Congenital
Anomalies
384
Liver
Disease
1,631
Homicide
4,482
Suicide
7,249
 
Liver
Disease
16,151
Alzheimer's
Disease
134,242
8 Cerebro-vascular
32
Diabetes
Mellitus
50
Diabetes
Mellitus
312
Diabetes
Mellitus
1,168
Diabetes
Mellitus
2,904
Cerebro-
vascular
5,686
Cerebro-
vascular
14,153
Diabetes
Mellitus
102,188
9 Benign Neoplasms
28
Influenza & Pneumonia
50
CLRD
220
Cerebro-
vascular
600
Cerebro-
vascular
2,008
CLRD
3,538
Suicide
7,160
Influenza & Pneumonia
53,544
10 Suicide
20*
Cerebro-vascular
44
Complicated Pregnancy
191
Complicated Pregnancy
594
Influenza & Pneumonia
1,148
Homicide
2,542
Influenza & Pneumonia
6,295
Nephritis
52,547
11 Septicemia
18*
COVID-19
32
Cerebrovascular
188
Influenza & Pneumonia
578
Septicemia
979
Influenza & Pneumonia
2,511
Septicemia
6,242
Liver Disease
51,642
12 COVID-19
17*
Benign Neoplasms
27
Influenza & Pneumonia
185
HIV
468
Nephritis
859
Septicemia
2,510
Nephritis
6,213
Suicide
45,979

CLRD: Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

*Unstable values

Note: In 2019, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death (47,511 suicide deaths). In 2020, liver disease and COVID-19 surpassed suicide as leading causes of death, but suicide deaths decreased compared to 2019 totals (45,979 suicide deaths). Suicide is not among the twelve leading causes of death among children in the 0-4 year age group nor in adults in the age group 65 years and older (data not shown).

Suicide Rates

Data in Figure 1 and Figure 2 are courtesy of the CDC ’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS Data Brief No. 433, March 2022).

Trends over Time

  • Suicide rates are based on the number of people who have died by suicide per 100,000 population. When comparing rates from one year to another year, ‘age-adjusted’ rates allow for differences in population age distributions and changes in population size over time to be taken into account.
  • Figure 1 shows age-adjusted suicide rates in the United States for each year from 2000 through 2020 for the total population, and for males and females separately.
    • The total age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 35.2% from 10.4 per 100,000 in 2000 to 14.2 per 100,000 in 2018, before declining to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2019 and declining again to 13.5 per 100,000 in 2020.
    • In 2020, the suicide rate among males was 4 times higher (22.0 per 100,000) than among females (5.5 per 100,000).

Figure 1

Suicide Rates in the United States (2000-2020)
Year Total Population Female Male
2000 10.4 4.0 17.7
2001 10.7 4.1 18.2
2002 11.0 4.2 18.5
2003 10.8 4.2 18.1
2004 11.0 4.5 18.1
2005 10.9 4.4 18.1
2006 11.0 4.5 18.1
2007 11.3 4.7 18.5
2008 11.6 4.8 19.0
2009 11.8 4.9 19.2
2010 12.1 5.0 19.8
2011 12.3 5.2 20.0
2012 12.5 5.4 20.3
2013 12.6 5.5 20.2
2014 13.0 5.8 20.7
2015 13.3 6.0 21.0
2016 13.4 6.0 21.3
2017 14.0 6.1 22.4
2018 14.2 6.2 22.8
2019 13.9 6.0 22.4
2020 13.5 5.5 21.9

Demographics

  • Crude suicide rate calculations take population size within subgroups in any given year or timeframe into account. They can be a useful tool for understanding the relative proportion of people affected within different demographic groups.
  • Figure 2 shows the crude rates of suicide within sex and age categories in 2020.
    • Among females, the suicide rate was highest for those aged 45-64 (7.9 per 100,000).
    • Among males, the suicide rate was highest for those aged 75 and older (40.5 per 100,000).

Figure 2

Suicide Rates by Age (2020)
Age Group Female Male
10–14 2.0 3.6
15–24 5.8 22.4
25–44 7.2 28.3
45–64 7.9 27.4
65–74 5.6 24.7
75+ 3.9 40.5
  • Figure 3 shows the age-adjusted rates of suicide for race/ethnicity groups in 2020 based on data from the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Data Visualization Tool.
  • The rates of suicide were highest for American Indian, Non-Hispanic males (37.4 per 100,000) and, followed by White, Non-Hispanic males (27.0 per 100,000). Among females the rates of suicide were highest for American Indian, Non-Hispanic females (10.8 per 100,000) and White, Non-Hispanic females (6.9 per 100,000).

Figure 3

Suicide Rates by Race (2020)
Race Female Male
AI 10.8 37.4
Asian/PI 3.8 10.3
Black 2.9 12.9
White 6.9 27.0
Hispanic* 2.8 12.3

*Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race; all other racial/ethnic groups are non-Hispanic
AI = American Indian, PI = Pacific Islander

Suicide Rates by State

  • Just as state population numbers and age distributions vary, suicide rates can vary widely from state to state. Based on data from the CDC WISQARS Fatal Injury Data Visualization Tool, Figure 4 shows a map of the United States with each state’s age-adjusted suicide rate in 2020 indicated by color.

Figure 4

Source: CDC - WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) Fatal Injury Mapping     
Website: https://wisqars.cdc.gov:8443/cdcMapFramework/mapModuleInterface.jsp       Applied Filters: Suicide All Injury Deaths
States: All States
Race: All Races
Ethnicity: All Ethnicities
Sex: All Sexes
Year Range: 2020-2020
Age Range: All Ages

Suicide by Method

Data in Table 2 and Figure 5 are courtesy of the CDC WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports.

Number of Suicide Deaths by Method

  • Table 2 includes information on the total number of suicides for the most common methods.
  • In 2020, firearms were the most common method used in suicide deaths in the United States, accounting for over half of all suicide deaths (24,292).

Table 2

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Suicide by Method (2020)
Data Courtesy of CDC
Suicide Method Number of Deaths
Total 45,979
Firearm 24,292
Suffocation 12,495
Poisoning 5,528
Other 3,664

Percent of Suicide Deaths by Method

  • Figure 5 shows the percentages of suicide deaths by method among females and males in 2020. Among females, the most common methods of suicide were firearm (33.0%), suffocation (29.1%), and poisoning (28.6%). Among males, the most common methods of suicide were firearm (57.9%) followed by suffocation (26.7%).

Figure 5

Percentage of Suicide Deaths by Method in the United States (2020)
Sex Other Poisoning Suffocation Firearm
Female 9.3 28.6 29.1 33.0
Male 7.6 7.8 26.7 57.9

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among U.S. Adults

Data in Figure 6, Figure 7, and Figure 8 are based on data from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)1 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

  • Figure 6 shows that 4.9% of adults aged 18 and older in the United States had serious thoughts about suicide in 2020.
    • Among adults across all age groups, the prevalence of serious suicidal thoughts was highest among young adults aged 18-25 (11.3%).
    • The prevalence of serious suicidal thoughts was highest among adults aged 18 and older who report having multiple (two or more) races (11.0%).

Figure 6

Past Year Prevalence of Suicidal Thoughts Among U.S. Adults (2020)
Demographic Percent
Overall 4.9
Sex Female 5.2
Male 4.5
Age 18-25 11.3
26-49 5.3
50+ 2.7
Race/Ethnicity *Hispanic or Latino 4.2
White 5.3
Black or African American 3.4
AI/AN 5.6
NH/OPI 2.3
Asian 2.8
2 or More 11.0

* Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race; all other racial/ethnic groups are non-Hispanic.
NH/OPI = Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander | AI/AN = American Indian / Alaskan Native

  • Figure 7 shows that in 2020, 0.5% of adults age 18 and older in the United States report they attempted suicide in in the past year.
    • Among adults across all age groups, the prevalence of suicide attempt in the past year was highest among young adults 18-25 years old (1.9%).
    • Among adults age 18 and older, the prevalence of suicide attempts in the past year was highest among those who report having multiple (two or more) races (1.2%).

Figure 7

Past Year Prevalence of Suicide Attempts Among U.S. Adults (2020)
Demographic Percent
Overall 0.5
Sex Female 0.6
Male 0.4
Age 18-25 1.9
26-49 0.4
50+ 0.1
Race/Ethnicity *Hispanic or Latino 0.6
White 0.5
Black or African American 0.3
NH/OPI 0.9
Asian 0.1
2 or More 1.2

* Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race; all other racial/ethnic groups are non-Hispanic. NH/OPI = Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander.
Note: The estimate for American Indian / Alaskan Native group is not reported in the above figure due to low precision of data collection in 2020.

  • Figure 8 shows that in 2020, 12.2 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts of suicide, and 1.2 million adults attempted suicide during the past year.

Figure 8

Past Year Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among U.S. Adults (2020)
Category Number
Serious thoughts of suicide 12.2 million
Made suicide plans 3.2 million
Attempted suicide 1.2 million
Made plans and attempted suicide 920,000
Made no plans and attempted suicide 283,000

Data Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Atlanta, GA: National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP21-07-01-003, NSDUH Series H-56). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2020-nsduh-annual-national-report.

Statistical Methods and Measurement Caveats

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

Population:

  • NSDUH participants are representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12 years old or older residing within the United States. Only adults 18 years and older are asked 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).
  • Sex (i.e., male and female) was recorded by the interviewer.

Interview Response and Completion:

  • In 2020, 37.2% of the NSDUH adult sample did not complete the interview.
  • Reasons for non-response to interviewing include: refusal to participate (10.7%); respondent unavailable or never at home (22.6%); and various other reasons, such as physical/mental incompetence or language barriers (3.9%).
  • 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.

Data Suppression:

  • For some groups, data are not reported due to low precision. Data may be suppressed in the above charts if the data do not meet acceptable ranges for prevalence estimates, standard error estimates, and sample size.

Background on the 2020 NSDUH and the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Data collection methods for the 2020 NSDUH changed in several ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic: In-person data collection was suspended in all areas in mid-March 2020. No data were collected in Quarter 2, and only a small amount of data were collected in Quarter 3. In-person data collection resumed in limited areas in Quarter 4. A new web mode for data collection was offered in all other areas, resulting in 93 percent of Quarter 4 interviews being completed via the web.
  • These changes to 2020 NSDUH data collection affected imputation procedures, weighting procedures, presentation of the data, and analysis and interpretation of the data. Given these changes, interpretation of the 2020 NSDUH data must be made with caution.
  • New questions were added to the Quarter 4 questionnaire that were relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please see the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Methodological Summary and Definitions report for further information on how these data were collected and calculated.

Last Updated: June 2022

If You are in Crisis

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) 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.

Veterans Crisis Line 800-273-8255

Additional Resources