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Extent and trends of suicide in the US, 1950-2001

Margaret Warner, PhD1, Manon A. Boudreault, MPH1, Malinda Steenkamp2, and Lois Fingerhut, MA3. (1) Office of Analysis and Epidemiology, National Center for Health Statistics, 3311 Toledo Road, Room 6325, Hyattsville, MD 20782, 301-458-4556, mwarner@cdc.gov, (2) Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, 4770 Buford Hwy (MS-K60), Atlanta, GA 30341, (3) Office of Analysis and Epidemiology, NCHS, 3311 Toledo Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782

Background: Suicide continues to be a major public health problem. This presentation examines the extent of and trends for suicide in the US. Methods: Mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (1950-2001) and population data from the Bureau of the Census were used to calculate mortality rates. Data were analyzed by demographics and suicide methods. Results: In 2001, there were 30,622 suicides with 81% among males. Male rates exceed female rates by 4:1 in younger ages and 8:1 in older ages. The death rate was highest for males 75-84 years at 37.8 per 100,000 population and 85 years and older at 51.1. Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in 2001 with an age-adjusted death rate of 10.7. In 1991, it was 8th leading cause with a rate of 12.3. In 1950, it was the 12th leading cause with a rate of 13.2. In 2001, firearms were the most common method accounting for 55% of suicides overall, but methods used varied by sex and age and patterns have changed since 1980. From 1980-1995, poisoning was the second leading method of suicide (after firearms), followed by suffocation. In 1996, suffocation became the second leading method as the rate of poisoning decreased and the rate of suffocations increased. Conclusions: Suicide remains a leading cause of death with males completing suicides at higher rates than females. Suicide rates for both sexes have shown slight declines since 1950. Firearms continue to be the leading mechanism.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Suicide, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Intentional Injuries Poster Session

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA