In 2022, the United States experienced a disturbing increase in suicides, reaching a record high since 1941. According to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50,000 individuals lost their lives to suicide, marking a significant mental health crisis. The estimated suicide rate stood at 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people, with the final count for the year expected to be even higher.
Men were disproportionately affected, constituting the majority of suicide cases. There were 39,255 suicides among males compared to 10,194 among females. Notably, while women generally have more suicidal thoughts, men are more likely to act on these thoughts. Among men, those over 75 faced the highest suicide rate, with 44 per 100,000 succumbing to mental health struggles. Dr. Yeates Conwell, a psychiatry professor, attributes this trend to men’s greater access to lethal means like firearms, a tendency to have fewer close relationships, and cultural stigmas around seeking help for depression.
The increase in suicides also reflects the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, which disrupted social and economic stability. Jeffrey Leichter, a psychologist, pointed to the lasting effects of this disruption on mental health.
Encouragingly, the suicide rates for children aged 10 to 14 and youths aged 15 to 24 decreased by 18% and 9%, respectively, from 2021. However, there is a growing concern for women aged 25 to 34, who saw a significant increase in suicide rates. Dr. Katie Hurley from the Jed Foundation emphasized the need for more mental health support for this demographic, noting the unique challenges they face in today’s tumultuous world.
Overall, the data underscores the urgent need for enhanced mental health resources and support across various demographics, particularly for men and young women.