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Suicide in the US is now considered a major public health issue. In 2016, 45,000 Americans took their own lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 53 percent increase since just 2000.

  • A recent CDC study on trends in suicide rates by US state revealed that in the period from 1999 to 2016 the suicide rate increased in all but one state, Nevada. Among US states, the suicide rate varied from six deaths per 100,000 population in the District of Columbia to 25 in Wyoming.
  • According to the CDC, mental health is just one contributing factor; data from its 27-state study suggests that upwards of 55 percent of suicides in 2015 were linked to substance abuse, health, relationships, work, and finances.
  • While the study also found that the nearly half of those who took their own lives used a firearm, the CDC pointed out that the rising suicide rate is across all methods, not only firearms.

The US is not alone in its struggle to address the underlying causes of suicide and improve access to preventive services. While suicide may only account for 1.5 percent of deaths globally, India reported more than 200,000 suicides in 2015 and China nearly 120,000 in the same year, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

  • Historically, suicides among poorer, agrarian populations of India have even influenced international trade negotiations, with the Minister of Commerce for India arguing to the World Trade Organization in favor of protections for farmers who were struggling, and sometimes succumbing, under existing agricultural trade conditions.
  • The countries with the highest suicide rates per 100,000 people in 2015 were: Sri Lanka, Guyana, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Cote'd Ivoire, according to the World Health Organization.

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