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2022 Marks Record High U.S. Suicide Rates: Older Adults Affected Despite Youth Decrease

U.S. suicide rates reach highest level since 1941, despite youth decline

The United States is facing an unprecedented surge in suicide deaths, particularly among older adults, marking a grim milestone in the nation’s history. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the year 2022 witnessed over 49,000 suicides, surpassing previous records.

This uptick in suicide rates contrasts sharply with a brief decline observed between 2018 and 2020. Adjusted for variations in population age, the CDC’s data reveals a current rate of 14.3 suicides per 100,000 individuals, a level not seen since the early 1940s.

Sally C. Curtin, a statistician at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and one of the authors of the report, noted the distinct nature of this trend, stating, “It’s somewhat different than what we’ve seen in past years.” While suicide rates have risen across various demographic groups, Curtin highlighted a positive aspect: a decline in some younger age groups, which had previously shown steady increases.

2022 Marks Record High U.S. Suicide Rates: Older Adults Affected Despite Youth Decrease

2022 Marks Record High U.S. Suicide Rates: Older Adults Affected Despite Youth Decrease (Credits: Getty Images)

The gender gap in suicide rates remains stark, with 23.1 male deaths per 100,000 compared to 5.9 female deaths per 100,000. Senior men, especially those over 75, face significantly higher risks, with rates nearly doubling those of young males aged 15 to 24.

Jill Harkavy-Friedman, senior vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, emphasized the importance of recognizing that depression is not a normal facet of aging and stressed the need for older individuals to seek treatment and maintain connections with others.

Despite men having an overall higher risk, women experienced a notable 4% increase in suicide rates from 2021 to 2022, a growth rate four times higher than that of men. Women between the ages of 45 and 54 appear to be particularly vulnerable, according to the report.

Significantly, suicide rates vary among different racial and ethnic groups, with American Indian and Alaska Native populations registering the highest rates.

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