Spike in Suicide Calls Challenges Hotlines

New study finds 8 million in U.S. considered suicide in 2008.

ByABC News
September 17, 2009, 12:29 PM

Sept. 17, 2009— -- A groundbreaking new government study reveals more than eight million American adults seriously considered suicide in 2008 – a number much larger than the roughly 33,000 Americans who die by their own hand every year.

The report – the first of its size and scope – sheds light on what government officials call a serious, growing public health crisis.

"This study offers a far greater understanding of just how pervasive the risk of suicide is in our nation," said Eric Broderick, the acting Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration administrator.

Among the findings: 2.3 million adults made a suicide plan and 1.1 million adults actually attempted suicide last year.

Young adults 18 to 25, long known to be the most likely to consider suicide, were three times more likely than those age 50 or older to be suicidal.

While the study did not report on why so many Americans consider suicide, mental health experts say the emotional impact of the recession is very likely a factor.

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services provided a cash infusion to dozens of crisis call centers that operate as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The centers have been inundated with distress calls since the recession began.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.