Suicide Facts: NIMH


Article title: Suicide Facts: NIMH
Conditions: Suicide
Source: NIMH

Suicide Facts

Suicide Deaths U.S., 1998*

  • Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • The total number of suicide deaths was 30,575
  • The 1998 age-adjusted rate** was 10.4/100,000, or 0.01%
    • 1.3% of total deaths were suicides. By contrast, the three leading causes of death are diseases of the heart (31%), malignant neoplasms or cancer (23%), and cerebrovascular disease such as stroke (7%).
    • Suicide outnumbered homicides (18,272) by 3 to 2
    • There were more than twice as many deaths due to suicide than deaths due to HIV/AIDS (13,426)

  • Suicide by firearms was the most common method for both men and women, accounting for 58% of all suicides
  • More men than women died by suicide
    • The gender ratio was 4:1
    • 72% of all suicide deaths were white men
    • 79% of all firearm suicide deaths were white men

  • A subgroup of the population with one of the highest suicide rates was white men over 85, who had a rate of 65/100,000.
  • 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 11.1/100,000.
    • The suicide rate among children ages 10-14 was 1.6/100,000, or 317 deaths among 19,242,000 children in this age group.
    • The suicide rate among adolescents aged 15-19 was 8.9/100,000, or 1,737 deaths among 19,539,000 adolescents in this age group.
      • The 1998 gender ratio for this age group was 5:1 (males: females)

    • Among young people 20 to 24 years of age the suicide rate was 13.6/100,000, or 2,398 deaths among 17,674,000 people in this age group.
      • The 1998 gender ratio for this age group was 6:1 (males: females)

Suicide Attempts

  • No annual national data on attempted suicide are available. There are an estimated 4-25 attempted suicides to one completion, depending on the age and gender group.
  • Research on life-time rates of attempts indicates
    • 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
    • The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in adults are mood disorders and comorbid substance use disorders
    • The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in youth are mood disorders and comorbid substance use disorders, aggressive or disruptive behaviors, and history of physical and sexual abuse

    *1998 U.S. mortality data was based on the International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision.

    ** Age-adjusted rates refer to weighting rates by a population standard to allow for comparisons across time and
       among risk groups.

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This page was last updated: December 17, 2001.

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