Two happy statues with colored hair are beaming rays of sunshine. But behind the masks, there's manic depression.
Suicide is no laughing matter. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Procsilas Moscas/Flickr)

Assuming statistics don’t lie, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some truly bad news. New data shows that 1 in every 100 American adults have made plans to commit suicide. Many more reported having generalized suicidal thoughts.

Suicide statistics tell sobering tale

Between 2008 and 2009, 8 million adults reported that they had at least considered the prospect of suicide, according to the CDC study, which is the first of its kind. Of those, more than 2 million made specific plans to end their lives and more than 1 million actually made an unsuccessful attempt.

Women, Caucasians and people younger than 30 ranked highest among those who formed thoughts of committing suicide.

Suicide rates higher in some states

The CDC study shows a wide variation in suicide attempt rates from state to state. The most suicide-thinking state in the nation is Utah, where 1 in 15 adults have serious thoughts of killing themselves. Rhode Islanders attempted suicide the most at 1 in every 67 adults. Georgians think the least about suicide at 1 in 50 adults.

Finding those most vulnerable

CDC epidemiologist and study co-author Dr. Alex Crosby told Reuters that the purpose of compiling the data was to identify those groups that are the most at-risk for suicide. Considering that about 35,000 U.S. adults commit suicide each year – and those who have considered suicide before are much more likely to eventually commit suicide – the task set before suicide prevention personnel is vital.

“The burden of the problem is not just with those who die,” Crosby said. “We are trying to find out where the most vulnerable populations are.”

Possible suicide causes

While the CDC study does not point out the causes of suicide on a state-by-state basis, Crosby believes that differences in demographics and the accessibility of health care are likely important.

“One state may have a higher population that is young and female,” he said.

CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden wrote in a media statement of the need to approach suicide prevention as a widespread problem. He also encouraged anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts to call the CDC’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

“We need to work together to raise awareness about suicide and learn more about interventions that work to prevent this public health problem,” said Frieden.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


National Institute of Mental Health:


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