Which States Have the Highest Suicide Rates?
Every year, nearly 800,000 people worldwide take their own lives and far more attempt suicide. In 2015, suicide was responsible for 44,193 deaths in the U.S., which equates to about one suicide every 12 minutes. Suicide was ranked the 10th-leading cause of death in 2015 and has been among the top 12 leading causes of U.S. deaths since 1975.
Unless one has experienced the loss of a loved one or friend by suicide, it’s hard to imagine the pain and suffering it inflicts on survivors.
Suicide Rates by State
A number of studies provide data on which states have the highest suicide rates. In overall terms, states with lower happiness rankings have a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care for adults. In 2015, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana had the highest suicide rates per 100,000 population at 28.24, 26.83 and 25.25, respectively. Whereas in the latest happiness poll, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana were ranked 39, 41 and 23, respectively.
Suicide Rates by Country
The World Health Organization publishes suicide rates by region. In 2015, Europe had the highest suicide mortality rates of any region, while Sri Lanka had the highest rate of suicide in the world. Each of the following countries had the highest suicide rates in their respective region, listed by 100,000 population.
- Southeast Asia – Sri Lanka: 35.3
- Europe – Lithuania: 32.7
- Western Pacific – Republic of Korea: 32.0
- Americas – Guyana: 29.0
- Africa – Equatorial Guinea 22.6
- Eastern Mediterranean – Sudan: 10.2
Suicide Risk Factors
Suicide impacts males and females of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. Major depressive disorder impacts more than 16.1 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population.
Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of death. More than 50% of all suicide deaths involve major depression. Genetic, biological, psychological, social and cultural factors also play a role, often in context with trauma or loss.
Major risk factors include:
- Other mental health disorders
- Substance abuse
- Serious or chronic health condition (e.g. pain)
- A prior suicide attempt
- Family history of a mental disorder, substance abuse or suicide
- Family violence (e.g. physical or sexual abuse)
- Stressful life events (e.g. death, divorce or job loss)
- Prolonged stress factors (e.g. sexual harassment or bullying)
- Guns or other firearms in the home
- Recent release from prison
- Exposure to suicidal behavior (e.g. family members, peers or celebrities)
Suicide Warning Signs
If you experience or notice any of the following warning signs in others, seek professional help.
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- Looking for a method to take one’s life (e.g. searching online or buying a gun)
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Stating one is a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs increasingly
- Acting anxious or agitated (e.g. behaving recklessly)
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating oneself
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Exhibiting extreme mood swings
Suicide prevention strategies need to be multifactorial and tailored to the individual. If you or someone you know is exhibiting suicide warning signs, it is essential to seek intervention immediately. In many instances, effective depression treatment helps alleviate symptoms, giving people newfound hope and reducing the risk of suicide.
Choose a better life. Choose recovery.