The suicide rate in the United States returned to a near-record high in 2021, reversing two years of decline, according to a report released Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Final data for the year shows that suicide was the 11th leading cause of death nationwide, with more than 14 deaths for every 100,000 people. The death rate has increased 32% over the past two decades, and the 4% jump between 2020 and 2021 was the sharpest annual increase in that timeframe.
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34 and fifth for people ages 35 to 54.
The suicide death rate was four times higher among men than women in 2021, CDC data shows, as it has been in many years prior. Rates increased significantly for men of most ages between 2020 and 2021 but were relatively unchanged for women of most ages, except for a significant rise among those 75 and older.
Rates were highest among American Indian people – about twice as high as average for men and three times as high for women – and rates spiked about 17% between 2020 and 2021. Rates also increased significantly for Black and White men and women.
Another report published Thursday by the CDC shows that adolescents were the age group most likely to visit the emergency department for suicidal thoughts in recent years.
Children are facing increasing mental health challenges, with significant shares of both teen girls (57%) and boys (29%) saying they felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. Nearly 1 in 3 teen girls said they seriously considered attempting suicide, a recent CDC survey found.
But growing demand for services is matched with a nationwide shortage of beds for children who need mental health help, leaving many children waiting in emergency department beds and crowding hospitals.