CDC: U.S. suicide rate jumped in 2021 and shows racial ‘disparities’
In 2021, 48,183 people in the U.S. committed suicide, the CDC said, compared with the 47,511 deaths by suicide in 2019 and 45,979 in 2020.
Data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that after a two-year decline in the number of suicides in the United States, those deaths went back up in 2021 and did so “significantly” for Black Americans.
In 2021, 48,183 people in the U.S. committed suicide, the CDC said, compared with the 47,511 deaths by suicide in 2019 and 45,979 in 2020. The record high for suicides in a single year came in 2018, the report said, when 48,344 Americans took their own life.
The CDC specifically pointed out an alarming rise in the number of young Black Americans who have committed suicide over the most recent three-year period for which data is available.
“Suicide rates among persons aged 10–24 years increased significantly during 2018–2021 among Black persons (from 8.2 to 11.2; a 36.6% increase),” the report stated.
The report noted the “particular concern” with younger Black Americans is mirrored among 25- to 44-year-olds of different ethnic groups. American Indian/Alaska Natives of that age demographic saw a 33.7% rise in suicides over that same three-year period, Blacks saw a 22.9% rise, Hispanics saw a 19.4% jump, while suicides for non-Hispanic multiracial Americans in that age range rose by 20.6% over that time period.
“It's much more helpful to understand data, at this segmented level, because it really helps us to design the right research and the right interventions for the future,” Julie Goldstein Grumet, vice president and director at the Zero Suicide Institute at the Education Development Center, told Yahoo News. She called the figures “disheartening.”
“It's challenging to realize, you know, that in some populations, suicide is just growing so exponentially,” she added.
The report, however, did show signs of a positive shift for older Americans: “Rates among persons aged 45–64 years decreased significantly overall (−12.4%) and among non-Hispanic Asian (−15.9%), Hispanic (−9.3%), and White persons (−11.5%). No significant changes were noted among persons aged ≥65 years,” the CDC report stated.
American Indians/Alaska Natives, who have struggled with suicide, continue to need help lowering the high risk of suicide. This group had the highest age-adjusted 2021 suicide rate and experienced the highest relative percentage change from 2018 to 2021 (from 22.3 to 28.1 per 100,000), the CDC data said.
When one looks across age groups, American Indian/Alaska Natives was the group that had the highest suicide rate in 2021 as well as the biggest increase in that rate (26%) from 2018 to 2021.
“American Indian/Alaskan Natives have really always have had significantly higher rates of suicide compared to the rest of the population and this is just showing us that it's continuing to grow. Again, we really have to make sure that our interventions, our prevention efforts, and our research focus very directly on culturally competent interventions,” Goldstein Grumet said.