The rate of Americans ending their own lives has risen to its highest level in decades, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control, and the increase is especially pronounced among women.
The age-adjusted suicide rate increased by 24% between 1999 and 2014, after a decline between 1986 and 1999, according to the CDC report. The total age-adjusted suicide rate stood at 13 in every 100,000 Americans in 2014, the report found, up from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999.
The pace of increase was greatest after 2006: before 2006, the suicide rate was increasing by about 1% each year, but after 2006 it surged to about 2% each year. While the report offers no reasoning behind the increase in suicides, that timing coincides with the financial crisis of 2008 and the sluggish economic recovery that followed it.
While men are still more than three times more likely to commit suicide than women, the suicide rate for women increased more than for men: the age-adjusted suicide rate for women increased by 45%, while the rate for men increased by 16%.
The suicide rate increased for women of all ages, but the spike was especially pronounced for women aged 45-64. And although such incidents are comparatively rare, suicides of girls aged 10-14 increased 200% in that period, to 150 in 2014.
As the suicide rate has increased, the most common methods of suicide have also changed. While guns still make up a significant portion of suicide deaths (31% of female suicides, about 55% of male suicides,) they are less frequently used than they were in 1999.
Death by suffocation (hanging, strangulation,) while relatively uncommon in 1999, now make up roughly 26% of suicides for both men and women. Poisoning was the most common method of suicide for women in 2014, while firearms were the most common method for men.