The number of suicides in the United States increased in 2022 compared to 2021, according to estimates released by the CDC this month.

The overall suicide rate has been increasing over the last few years, according to the health agency’s data. Suicides increased 2.6% between 2021 and 2022, and 5% between 2020 and 2021. Before then, suicides had been declining nationally for a couple years, data shows.

Some groups did see a decline in suicides between 2021 and 2022, but other groups — notably, older adults — saw an increase.

The CDC says suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. While officials can’t say exactly why the number of suicides recently grew, there are known risk factors that contribute to suicide risk, and known protective factors that can help prevent suicide.

A look at the numbers

The unofficial total number of suicide deaths in 2022 was 49,449. In 2021, the official suicide total was 48,183. That’s a 2.6% increase.

The CDC says that in 2021, the highest suicide rates are found among people who identify as Native American or Alaska Native. In 2022, however, this group was one of only two groups to see a decline in suicides: Rates among Native Americans and Alaska Natives decreased by 6.1% in 2022.

Suicides increased among all other racial and ethnic groups. People who identify as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander saw the largest increase, 15.9%, in suicides compared to other racial/ethnic groups in 2022.

The other group to see a decline in suicides was young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. Adults between 45-64 years old saw a 6.6% increase last year. Adults over the age of 65 saw an even larger increase of 8.1%.

Suicides are statistically more common among men than women, though women saw a slightly larger increase percentage in 2022 compared to men.

You can see the CDC’s provisional data for 2021-2022 here.

What causes suicide?

It’s difficult to say why exactly someone kills themself — the reasons can vary greatly per person. However, there is a range of factors that can contribute to the risk of suicide, and experts believe that by understanding these risks and how to address them, people may be less likely to hurt themselves.

The CDC’s Individual, Relationship, Community, Societal model reflects how many different kinds of factors might be working together to put someone at risk of violence toward themself.

Suicide is often associated with mental illness, but there can be a myriad of factors that contribute to the violence in addition to, or exclusive of, someone’s mental health situation.

The CDC’s Individual, Relationship, Community, Societal model. This model considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. It allows us to understand the range of factors that put people at risk for violence or protect them from experiencing or perpetrating violence. The overlapping rings in the model illustrate how factors at one level influence factors at another level. (CDC)

Here’s a look at the different risk factors for each category, as written by the CDC:

Individual risk factors

  • Previous suicide attempt.

  • History of depression and other mental illnesses.

  • Serious illness such as chronic pain.

  • Criminal/legal problems.

  • Job/financial problems or loss.

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies.

  • Substance use.

  • Current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences.

  • Sense of hopelessness.

  • Violence victimization and/or perpetration.

Relationship risk factors

  • Bullying.

  • Family/loved one’s history of suicide.

  • Loss of relationships.

  • High conflict or violent relationships.

  • Social isolation.

Community risk factors

  • Lack of access to healthcare.

  • Suicide cluster in the community.

  • Stress of acculturation.

  • Community violence.

  • Historical trauma.

  • Discrimination.

Societal risk factors

  • Stigma associated with help-seeking and mental illness.

  • Easy access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk.

  • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide.

While there are several factors that can contribute to suicide risk, there are also several factors that can help prevent such violence. The CDC says these factors can be found in each of the same categories, and use the Individual, Relationship, Community, Societal model to organize what they call “protective factors.”

Here’s a look at protective factors, as written by the CDC:

Individual protective factors

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills.

  • Reasons for living (for example, family, friends, pets, etc.).

  • Strong sense of cultural identity.

Relationship protective factors

  • Support from partners, friends, and family.

  • Feeling connected to others.

Community protective factors

  • Feeling connected to school, community, and other social institutions.

  • Availability of consistent and high quality physical and behavioral healthcare.

Societal protective factors

  • Reduced access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk.

  • Cultural, religious, or moral objections to suicide.

What are the suicide warning signs?

If someone you know or love is at risk for suicide, there are some common warning signs you can watch out for, including:

  • Talking about being a burden.

  • Being isolated.

  • Increased anxiety.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

  • Increased substance use.

  • Looking for a way to access lethal means.

  • Increased anger or rage.

  • Extreme mood swings.

  • Expressing hopelessness.

  • Sleeping too little or too much.

  • Talking or posting about wanting to die.

  • Making plans for suicide.

How to get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. There are national and even local resources available to you that can help.

Here are some local emergency resources for Metro Detroiters:

Lapeer County

  • Lapeer County Community Mental Health 810-667-0500 (24 hours).

  • Hope Hotline (through McLaren Lapeer Region) 800-334-HOPE.

  • Survivors of Suicide Support Group meets the first and third Tuesday of every month from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Church 220 West Nepressing Street, Lapeer, MI 48446.

Livingston County

  • Call the crisis line at 800-615-1245.

Macomb County

  • Call the crisis line at 586-307-9100.

Monroe County

  • Call the crisis line at 800-886-7340.

Oakland County

  • Call or text the crisis line at 800-231-1127.

St. Clair County

  • Call the crisis line at 888-225-4447 or 211.

Wayne County

  • Call the crisis line at 800-241-4949.

Washtenaw County

  • Call the crisis line at 734-544-3050.

Click here to find crisis lines in other Michigan counties not listed above.

Anyone in the United States can call or text 988 at any time to receive free and confidential support from the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You could also chat online with someone from the lifeline right here.

—> Read: What to expect when calling a suicide prevention hotline

Health experts say that suicide is preventable, and that the public health crisis can be addressed at all levels of society.

Click here to learn more about suicide prevention and resources on the CDC’s website.

Copyright 2023 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

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