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  • Nick Luhring

Stopping Suicide: an American Resolution

The act of killing oneself, it appears, has become more American than ever, with people from the US committing the act year over year at higher rates, while global rates are declining. According to an article by The Economist, global suicide rates have declined 29% since the year 2000. Most notably, countries like China and India have seen fewer young women kill themselves, as well as in Russia, where middle-aged and older men are committing the act at a much lower rate. During the same time period, suicide rates in the United States have risen 18%.

How odd is it that the international rates would fall at the same time as the national rate increases? It is much like homicides in Baltimore or Washington DC in that respect, where the local rates are increasing while the national rates are decreasing. These measures are extremely important when it comes to learning about what causes suicide and what can be done in the future to stop it from happening.

A quick look at some statistics tells us why and how we can focus in on the problem to solve it. Firstly, it is a male-dominated action, with men dying at a rate of almost 4 times that of women. However, more women attempt suicide than men by about 1.2 times. Many factors are associated with self-injury in general, including traumatic stress and poor economic conditions. This Wikipedia article gives a good break-down of the numbers in the US:

The second important set of statistics involves Veterans of the US military, those brave men and women who fight to protect American interests overseas seem to be killing themselves at an ever-higher rate. The reasons are complex, but essentially boil down to this – as service-members witness atrocities, they develop traumatic stress, which, if left unattended, can persuade the Veteran to commit acts of self-destruction.

It is interesting to note that the gender-gap for suicide diminishes with military service. Possibly because the success rates are higher for women who have more access to and knowledge of fire-arms.

It is the first day of 2019. A New Year. Let us take stock on how important and joyful life is. Let us take aim at preventing suicide. Let stopping suicide be an American Resolution. To learn more or donate to the cause, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website:


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