The recent, tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, coupled with a CDC report stating that suicide rates are on the rise across the U.S., have raised critical concerns about mental health awareness. And the latest data regarding mental illness and suicide is perhaps even more alarming: The number of women who take their own lives is increasing much faster than the number of men. And we need to talk about this.
According to new data from the CDC‘s National Center for Health Statistics, the number of Americans who died by suicide increased by a 30% between 2000 and 2016. And while every demographic experienced an increase in suicides, the biggest change was among girls and women.
Holly Hedegaard, a medical epidemiologist at the NCHS and the study’s main author, told NPR that men are still between three and four times more likely to commit suicide than women. But over the course of the 16 years studied, the suicide rate increased by 50% among women, as opposed to 21% among men. The biggest change was among women between 45 and 64 years old, who experienced a 60% increase in suicides. More teenage girls also died by suicide in the years studied.
While scientists know that suicide rates are increasing, they don’t exactly know why. According to PBS NewsHour, the CDC found that more than half of the suicide victims in this study had no history of mental illness. And there are many, many factors that can lead to suicidal thoughts — from the medications you take to the amount of stress you live with on a daily basis.
But researchers are hopeful that by studying these patterns, suicide rates can be curbed.
It’s important that we take care of ourselves and our loved ones — perhaps now more than ever. Just remember that you’re not alone, and there’s no shame in asking for help.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.