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8.3M US Adults Had Serious Thoughts Of Committing Suicide

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Nearly 8.3 million adults (age 18 and older) in the U.S. (3.7 percent) had serious thoughts of committing suicide in the past year according to the first national scientific survey of its size on this public health problem. The study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that 2.3 million adult Americans made a suicide plan in the past year and that 1.1 million adults - 0.5 percent of all adult Americans – had actually attempted suicide in the past year.

The study provides important insights into the nature and scope of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. For example, the risk of suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts varies significantly among age groups. Young adults aged 18 to 25 were far more likely to have seriously considered suicide in the past year than those aged 26 to 49 (6.7 percent versus 3.9 percent), and nearly three times more likely than those aged 50 or older (2.3 percent). These disparities in risk levels among younger and older adults also were found in suicide planning and suicide attempts.

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Substance use disorders also were associated with an increase in the risk of seriously considering, planning or attempting suicide. People experiencing substance abuse disorders within the past year were more than three times as likely to have seriously considered committing suicide as those who had not experienced a substance abuse disorder (11.0 percent versus 3.0 percent). Those with past year substance abuse disorders were also 4 times more likely to have planned a suicide than those without substance abuse disorders (3.4 percent versus 0.8 percent), and nearly seven times more likely to have attempted suicide (2.0 percent versus 0.3 percent).

The study also revealed that adult females had marginally higher levels of suicidal thoughts and behaviors than males in the past year.

“This study offers a far greater understanding of just how pervasive the risk of suicide is in our nation and how many of us are potentially affected by it,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator, Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “While there are places that people in crisis can turn to for help like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK, the magnitude of the public health crisis revealed by this study should motivate us as a nation to do everything possible to reach out and help the millions who are at risk — preferably well before they are in immediate danger.”

The study notes that only 62.3 percent of adults who had attempted suicide in the past year received medical attention for their suicide attempts. It also notes that 46.0 percent of those attempting suicide stayed in a hospital overnight or longer for treatment of their suicide attempts.