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November 2017

Suicide and Attempted Suicide in the United States During the 21st Century

Author Affiliations
  • 1Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(11):1087-1088. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2524

Despite the efforts of many, suicides and attempted suicides continue to increase in the United States.1 Olfson et al2 report that US suicide attempts increased significantly from 0.62% to 0.79% among the adult population aged 21 years and older, based on representative community samples recruited from 2004 to 2005 and 2012 to 2013. The increase in attempts was driven by people aged 21 to 34 years, especially involving those who had achieved a lower level of education and faced economic challenges, and who presented with depression, an antisocial personality, substance use disorders, or a history of violence. In both survey groups, nearly two-thirds had a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which was not surprising when focusing on respondents who had a history of attempting suicide during the preceding 3 years. While economic disadvantages were apparent, Olfson et al2 also detected a significant increase among employed people, a finding that is consistent with reports that show increased suicide rates among the employed during times of economic instability.3