National Study Examines Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Nearly 8.3 million adults age 18 and older in the United States (3.7 percent) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, according to the first national scientific survey of its size on this public health problem.
Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors among Adults, from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), also shows that 2.3 million adult Americans made a suicide plan in the past year and that 1.1 million adults—0.5 percent of all adult Americans—had actually attempted suicide in the past year.
Among the adults who had serious thoughts of suicide, most (5.8 million) had not made a suicide plan or suicide attempt. Approximately 1.4 million adults had serious thoughts of suicide and made a suicide plan, but had not made a suicide attempt; 0.2 million had serious thoughts of suicide and made a suicide attempt, but made no suicide plan.
An estimated 0.9 million had serious thoughts of suicide, made a suicide plan, and actually attempted suicide.
According to the report, the risk of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts varies significantly among age groups. Young adults age 18 to 25 were far more likely to have seriously considered suicide in the past year than those age 26 to 49 (6.7 versus 3.9 percent), and nearly three times more likely than those age 50 or older (2.3 percent). (See chart.)
These disparities in risk levels among younger and older adults also were found in suicide planning and suicide attempts.
Substance use disorders also were associated with a higher risk of seriously considering, planning, or attempting suicide.
People experiencing substance use disorders within the past year were more than three times as likely to have seriously considered suicide as those who had not experienced a substance use disorder (11.0 versus 3.0 percent).
Those with past-year substance use disorders were also four times more likely to have made a suicide plan than those without substance use disorders (3.4 versus 0.8 percent) and nearly seven times more likely to have attempted suicide (2.0 versus 0.3 percent).
Source: SAMHSA Office of Applied Studies (September 17, 2009). Figure 1. The NSDUH Report: Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors among Adults. Rockville, MD.
Of the adults who attempted suicide in the past year, 62.3 percent (678,000 people) received medical attention for their suicide attempts, and 46.0 percent (500,000) stayed overnight or longer in a hospital for their suicide attempts.
This study is the first to present findings based on new NSDUH suicide questions introduced in 2008 and asked of all adult respondents age 18 or older.
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