Study on Suicide Trends in the US Shows Increased Need for Service Accessibility

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Depression - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2022
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Psychiatrists, who looked at 484,732 US adults who had attempted suicide, discovered that while suicide attempt rates have increased in the past decade, the use of mental health services has stayed stagnant.
A study published in JAMA Psychiatry revealed that the suicide attempt rate per 100,000 adults increased from a rate of 481.2 to 563.9 in the last decade. The study also found rates to have a particular increase among groups who were aged 18 to 25, female, unemployed, unmarried, and were using substances.
Of those 484,732 survey participants, 69.8% were 35 years or younger, 51.8% were women, and 65.7% were non-Hispanic White.
But among those who had attempted suicide, there was no significant change in the likelihood of receiving mental health services. In fact, 34.8% to 45.5% reported needing services which were not met. Those percentages had no significant change in the last decade.
Respondents voiced their reasons for not seeking mental health care, which included lack of transportation, lack of information on where to find help, time availability, and the assumption that treatment would not help.
This study focused on pre-pandemic data, though, and it’s important to note that as we head into year 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic, that data may change. For example, the CDC released a separate study on data between 2019 to 2020 focusing on suicide deaths. Experts found that while there was an increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts during the first few months of the pandemic, suicide death rates either plateaued or declined.
However, experts say those numbers shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a reflection of mental health during the pandemic. “We shouldn’t take the numbers and say, ‘Oh, fewer people killed themselves in the early part of the pandemic. Things must have been good,’” said Jonathan Singer, president of the American Association of Suicidology. “Depressive symptoms, eating disorders, all those things have gone up. But, it doesn’t mean that because you are suffering, you are going to kill yourself.”
The CDC also found that while suicide deaths decreased for white and Asian males during the pandemic, there was an increase in rates for men of color. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explained the increase in suicidal risks among this demographic is a result of systemic racism, historical barriers and inequities having led communities to face trauma, loss, and generational bias.
In order to combat suicide attempts, experts say it’s important for clinicians to incorporate routine suicidal and mental health screenings into their practice, become familiar with counseling on lethal means, increase the frequency of outpatient visits or communication during periods of increased risk, and when permission is granted, involve patient’s family in supportive actions, including making the home environment safe and void of lethal means.
The study focused on data taken between 2008 and 2019.
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