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National Institute of Mental Health
Updated April 11, 2003

Suicide in the United States


Suicide Deaths, U.S., 2000*

  • Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • It was the 8th leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading cause of death for females.
  • The total number of suicide deaths was 29,350.
  • The 2000 age-adjusted rate** was 10.6/100,000, or 0.01%.
    • 1.2% of total deaths were from suicide. By contrast, 29.6% were from diseases of the heart, 23% were from malignant neoplasms (cancer), and 7% from cerebrovascular disease (stroke), the three leading causes.
    • Suicide outnumbered homicides (16,765) by 5 to 3.
    • There were twice as many deaths due to suicide than deaths due to HIV/AIDS (14,478).
  • Suicide by firearms was the most common method for both men and women, accounting for 57% of all suicides.
  • More men than women die by suicide.
    • The gender ratio is 4:1.
    • 73% of all suicide deaths are white males.
    • 80% of all firearm suicide deaths are white males.
  • Among the highest rates (when categorized by gender and race) are suicide deaths for white men over 85, who had a rate of 59/100,000.
  • Suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide. The rate was 10.4/100,000, or .01%.
    • The suicide rate among children ages 10-14 was 1.5/100,000, or 300 deaths among 19,895,072 children in this age group.
           The gender ratio for this age group was 4:1 (males: females).
    • The suicide rate among adolescents aged 15-19 was 8.2/100,000, or 1,621 deaths among 19,882,596 adolescents in this age group.
           The gender ratio for this age group was 5:1 (males: females).
    • Among young people 20 to 24 years of age the suicide rate was 12.8/100,000, or 2,373 deaths among 18,484,615 people in this age group.
           The gender ratio for this age group was 7:1 (males: females).

Attempted Suicides

  • No annual national data on all attempted suicides are available
  • Other research indicates that:
    • There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides to one completion; the ratio is higher in women and youth and lower in men and the elderly
    • More women than men report a history of attempted suicide, with a gender ratio of 3:1

* 2000 U.S. mortality data was based to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10), whereas ICD-9 has been used for the last several years of mortality data. For this reason, comparisons between 2000 and earlier mortality data should be made carefully. For a full explanation of the implications of this change, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/fatal/help/datasources.htm#6.3

** Age-adjusted rates refer to weighting rates by a population standard to allow for comparisons across time and among risk groups. The 2000 mortality data is calculated using figures from the 2000 census, whereas previous years have been calculated using 1940 census data. For this reason, comparisons between 2000 and earlier mortality data should be made carefully. For a full explanation of the implications of this change, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/fatal/help/datasources.htm#6.2.

This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved  in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.

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