A new report from the CDC shows that the suicide rate is rising in the United States, with women experiencing some of the sharpest increases. The report, released today by the National Center For Health Statistics, looks at data collected in 1999 and again in 2014. Overall, the results found that the suicide rate in 2014 was 24% higher than it was in 1999. And there were increases for both men and women under the age of 75. While the actual 2014 rate for women (5.8 per 100,000) remains much lower than the rate for men (20.7 per 100,000), the most striking increases were seen among women: Non-Hispanic American Indian or Native American women saw an 89% increase, and non-Hispanic white women saw a 60% increase. The only group for which the rate decreased (by 8%) was Black men. Although the report doesn't speculate about possible reasons for the increased rate in women, Christine Moultier, MD, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told CNN that opioid drug overdoses may be partly to blame. Although these are usually considered accidental deaths, they may instead be considered suicides if the medical examiner believes the overdose could have been intentional. On the other hand, other research points to an increase in social isolation and a slowed economy as possible culprits, especially for middle-aged adults, the New York Times reported.
What is clear is that we need better ways of detecting those who may be at risk for suicide — especially those who are likely to otherwise fall through the cracks. And as the risk for suicide increases among women, it might be time to seriously consider a gender-specific approach before it gets worse.