Female suicide rate jumps 50 percent since 2000

The rate of suicide for men increased 21 percent.

June 14, 2018, 5:47 PM

The rate of suicide for women increased by a staggering 50 percent between 2000 and 2016, according to a new study by the CDC.

The rate of suicide for men increased 21 percent over the same period, the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Lead author Dr. Holly Hedegaard told ABC News that the report uses the most recent data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) “to update trends in suicide from 2000 through 2016, and describes differences by sex, age group and means of suicide.”

The study comes at a critical time, in light of the heartbreaking, newsmaking suicides by designer Kate Spade and TV cooking personality Anthony Bourdain.

Though men still commit suicide more frequently than women, this sobering new report reveals the rate of increase in suicides was approximately even until 2007, when female suicide rates started to rise faster.

The ratio of male-to-female suicide rates was 4.4 men to 1 woman in 2000; it dropped to 3.6 men per one woman in 2016.

A leading cause of death, especially in teens, young adults

Since 2006, suicide rates have been increasing by a staggering 2 percent per year. Since 2008, suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S.

In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death among those aged 10-34 and the fourth leading cause among those aged 35-54. Nearly 45,000 people died from suicide – approximately one death every 12 minutes -- in 2016, according to the CDC.

Methods of suicide vary by age group and gender

Kate Spade, who died at age 55 by suffocation, was unusual for women in her age group, according to the new report. Suffocation is the most common method of suicide for young women (under age 25), poisoning by drug or gas is most common in women aged 45 and over.

Bourdain, who died at age 61 by suffocation, was also unusual. Men 15 and over are much more likely to die by firearm use. The CDC recently reported that people without known mental health conditions were more likely to be male and to die by firearm.

Dr. Hedegaard told ABC News, “This report shows that the methods of suicide differ by age group and sex. The observed patterns might help inform prevention efforts.”

Although the federal program Healthy People 2020 target is to reduce suicide rates to 10.2 per 100,000, this NVSS report, made with information on suicide deaths from death certificate records from all 50 states, shows that we have a ways to go.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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