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Suicide Prevention

Suicide as defined by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with an intent to die as a result of the behavior. 


Suicide is a tragic event that affects everyone of all ages, races, religions, incomes, educational levels…in other words, suicide does not discriminate! According to the latest statistics, approximately 121 people die by suicide every day and it is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (with 44,965 people dying in 2016). According to the American Association of Suicidology, the latest statistics show that the highest suicide rate (19.2) was among adults between 45 and 64 years of age. The second highest rate (19.0) occurred in those 85 years or older…however ONE suicide is too many in any age group.  Men are especially at risk, with a suicide rate approximately four times higher than that of women. There are also major disparities amongst ethnic and racial groups, with American Indian and Alaskan Natives being the highest risk groups.  Firearms account for the most common method of death by suicide, accounting for a little more than half (51.0%) of all suicide deaths. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hangings) at 25.9% and poisoning at 14.9%. 


Regarding our nation’s youth, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10-14 year olds (with 436 deaths in 2016) and the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds (with 5,723 deaths in 2016). Most recent 2016 CDC data show the suicide rate for 15-19 year olds to be 10.02 while the rate for 20-24 year olds is 16.11. Male youth are also at greater risk, though female youth suffer from more suicide attempts. Further, the 2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey found that 8% of high school students report having made a suicide attempt in the last year, almost 14% report having made a plan for a suicide attempt, and 17% report having seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year. According to the American Association of Suicidology, over 1,124.125 suicide attempts (of all ages) occurred in 2016. This number is likely higher due to the number of attempts that are never reported.


Within Pennsylvania, there were 1,970 suicides – just in our state in 2016. Aligning with national statistics, the majority of these (1,533) were male and 1,835 were Caucasian. Regarding youth specifically in Pennsylvania, there were 145 deaths of those between 20 and 24 years of age (124 male and 21 female), 79 deaths of those 15-19 years (61 male and 18 female), and 18 deaths of those ages 10-14 years (data sample is not large enough to analyze gender differences).


If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.