Monday, April 25, 2016

ALARMING RISE - National Suicide Rate

"What’s causing a rising rate of suicide?" PBS NewsHour 4/22/2016


SUMMARY:  The national suicide rate has hit its highest point since 1986, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control.  Among middle-aged Americans, the gender gap narrowed between men and women who took their own lives.  For 10 to 14-year-old girls, the rate has tripled in the past 15 years.  Hari Sreenivasan learns more from Katherine Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The government released new statistics about suicide in the U.S., and the results were sobering and stunning.  The nation’s suicide rate is at its highest point since 1986.  Nearly 43,000 people ended their own lives in 2014, which is the most recent year with full data.

Hari Sreenivasan has more on this story from our New York studios.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The rise in rates were particularly alarming among some age groups.  While the numbers are still smaller among children, the suicide rate was up sharply among 10-to-14-year-old girls, tripling in the past 15 years.

It also rose steeply among middle-aged Americans, 63 percent higher for middle-aged women, 43 percent higher for middle-aged men.

For some perspective on these trends and some of the potential reasons behind it, I’m joined by Katherine Hempstead, who studies this for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

For the record, the foundation is a funder of the NewsHour.

So, which of these sets of numbers, and we just went over a couple of them, but stood out to you when you saw this?

KATHERINE HEMPSTEAD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Well, I think there has been concern about the middle-aged group for a while now.

And people have been noticing increased rates for both males and females.  And with these latest results, we see really, really large increases for women in particular and a closing of that gender gap, as the female rates starts to be closer to the male rate.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  That women try more, but men succeed more?  Is that one of the…


KATHERINE HEMPSTEAD:  Well, I think that’s something that is true.

There is much more of a nonfatal to fatal ratio for females.  There are many more attempted self-harms that don’t result in fatal incidents.  But now we see — with this new trend, we see the rates getting closer, and we also see a change in the method, so that we see this increasing adoption of suffocation or hanging as a suicide method by both males and females, and that is a highly lethal method.

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