Suicide rates fall again — but not for young adults and some people of color

The suicide rate has fallen again, but this time it is not for young adults or people of color
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Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you care about is considering suicide.

Some worried that a rise in unemployment and mass isolation could lead to suicide rates skyrocketing when the pandemic started in early 2020.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study has shown that suicides fell by 3% in 2020. This continues a downward trend that started in 2019, after almost two decades of growth.

The report estimates that approximately 46,000 people committed suicide in 2020. This is about 1,600 more than the previous year.

This was evident in April when 14% more people committed suicide than April 2019.

Sally Curtin (a statistician at CDC) said that suicide is more unpredictable than other causes of death. She was also the lead author of the report. You can have an increase of risk factors for suicide, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and financial stress... but that does not necessarily mean an increase in deaths.

The April decline came at a time in which most Americans were living in a stay at home order. The unemployment rate was 14.7% with more than 20,000,000 jobs being lost in that month alone. Crisis hotlines reported a huge increase in calls.

The suicide rate was just under 3500 Americans in that month. This is 550 more than April 2019, which is the biggest year-over-year decline in the report. Drug overdoses, another "death by despair," also rose.

Curtin stated that the drop was "very noticeable, interesting and probably unanticipated for most people." It deserves more attention and more research to understand what happened.

Whites are more likely to commit suicide than other people, while others are experiencing an increase.

This decline was almost entirely due to a decrease in suicides among whites, who have a higher suicide rate than any other group in the country. Despite America being 62% white, 75% of the suicides committed in 2020 were by whites.

Curtin stated, "The sheer number of whites is just so high."

Prior to 2019, suicides rose almost every year between 2000-2018, with a 35% increase in the last decade. This trend is beginning to reverse for whites, particularly middle-aged.

The study also shows that numbers for other ethnicities are on the rise, especially among men.

Hispanic men were more likely to commit suicide in 2020 than they were in 2017. The rates of suicide for Black men and American Indian–Alaska Native men also increased, but the report cautioned that these increases were not statistically significant.

Some young people experienced double-digit increases

There were double-digit increases in suicide rates for some groups of young people of colour, notably Black youth between the ages of 35 and 34 and Hispanic youth between the ages of 25 and 34. This troubling finding is consistent with other studies. One published in September in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that suicide rates rose faster among Black girls than other groups.

According to the research, suicide is a problem that affects white youth and older white men. Unfortunately, this doesn't help us when it comes to creating prevention programs for Black youth and Hispanic youth," Arielle Sheftall (principal investigator, Center for Suicide Prevention and Research) said in a statement. She was also the lead author of the study and spoke to NPR's Here & Now in September.

Curtin states that overall suicide rates have declined, which is something Curtin should be proud of. However, it's still very high when viewed in a long-term context. Although suicide rates were lower in 2020 than they were in 2019, it is still higher than any year prior 2017.

"Yes, there have been two years of drops. Curtin stated that the rate is still high and the number is historical.