Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the national suicide rate is increasing. Suicide rates increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014 in all age groups from 10 to 74. The rate of increase was greater among females in 2014 than in males, and rates are increasing in younger age groups.
The CDC calculates the national suicide rate at 12.97 per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide in the state of Pennsylvania’s suicide rate has the unfortunate distinction of being above the national rate at 13.3 per 100,000 people.1
Pennsylvania’s Suicide Rate: On the Rise
In 2014, 1,817 individuals perished at their own hands in the state of Pennsylvania. Many experts speculate that suicide rates always increase in unfavorable economic times, and Pennsylvania has experienced significant economic uncertainty over recent years. The state’s rebound after the recession of 2008-2011 has been slow, and the economic climate may have negatively affected the mental health of many people who have been struggling financially.
Age Brackets Impacted by Suicide
Nationally, suicides in young girls between the ages of 10 and 14 tripled between 1999 and 2014. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to feelings of low self-worth due to societal expectations of appearance or social pressures.
A Patriot-News analysis of coroner reports found that the Central Pennsylvania suicide rate was highest among adults aged 40 to 60.2 A number of factors may affect this demographic. The difficult economy puts significant stress on people in this age bracket. Financial pressure often makes people feel that they have no control over their lives, leaving them with a feeling of hopelessness.
People in this age range may fall into depression but be uncomfortable admitting the problem, feeling they should be mature enough to handle the ups and downs of life. This group is also one that may still feel asking for help for mental health issues is a sign of weakness. In addition, many in this age group are of the baby boomer generation, which has a higher rate of suicide at every stage of life.
Reaching Out to Troubled Individuals
Mental health experts emphasize that prevention will be key to lowering the suicide rate. Education can be an important part of helping the public to recognize the symptoms of potential suicidal ideation, so that friends and family members can help these individuals get immediate mental health counseling.
Physicians should be particularly alert to mental health issues in their patients, particularly those in vulnerable age groups or those who are experiencing severe or traumatic life events. Media initiatives can be helpful in making suicide a less taboo subject and spreading information on where to get help for depression, anxiety and other mental health problems that often contribute to suicide attempts.
Making mental health treatment centers a visible part of the community can help to dispel the myths around suicide and make it more socially acceptable to not only talk about suicidal thoughts, but also to make it easier to find the mental health services these individuals need.
Reducing suicide statistics both in Pennsylvania and nationally depends on the ability of individuals to get effective treatment for depression and other mental health problems. If you or a loved one struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts or substance abuse, contact the professionals at The Light Program today to begin treatment that can change your life.