More people committed suicide in the U.S. last year than any other year in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2022, at least 49,000 lives were lost due to intentional self-harm – that’s approximately 15 deaths per 100,000 individuals. It also marks a significant jump of 10 percent over the past two years.
According to Dr. Debra Houry, the Chief Medical Officer at the CDC, these increases have been present for many years, though there was a slight decline between 2019 and 2020. She also emphasized that there’s a lot that can be done about the issue, including destigmatizing mental health conditions. However, she also pointed out that not everyone who dies from intentional self-harm has a mental health issue.
Every month, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics puts together data gathered from different states. The latest update, which was released on Thursday, represented a set of data for 2022. However, the numbers will not be finalized until later this year.
In 2021, suicide became the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., just behind chronic liver disease. This remained unchanged in 2022. According to the provisional data, firearms were involved in over half of all suicide cases last year.
A separate report, published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, found that firearm-related suicides were the main driving factor behind the recent increase in suicide rates. Between 2019 and 2021, the rate of gun-related suicides went up for 10 percent. During the same timeframe, the rate for those that did not involve firearms went down 8 percent.
According to the report, Caucasian men above the age of 75 are at the highest risk of gun suicide.
Last month, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline also celebrated its first anniversary. The lifeline, which is a transition from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, offers a simple, three-digit number 988, that’s intentionally made to be easy to remember – similar to 911.
Since then, the Crisis Lifeline has received nearly 5 million calls, online chat messages, and texts, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately one-fifth of these contacts were associated with the Veterans Crisis Line, which veterans, military members, and their loved ones can reach by calling the three-digit number.
However, many Americans are still unaware that they can call, send a chat message, or text to 988 to contact licensed professionals – ones that can help de-escalate a crisis, connect them with additional resources, or provide them with emotional support.
In fact, over 80 percent of adults have never heard of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Demand for licensed counselors has also been increasing. According to another survey, nine of ten American adults believe the country is having a mental health crisis, with over 1 in 5 adults describing their own mental health as “poor” or fair”.