Why are suicide rates rising?


THE recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have raised the question: Why is suicide becoming more common? And what can be done to reverse the trends?
While researchers have proposed everything from social isolation to bullying as the reason, it’s still a mystery why rates are rising. Experts do, however, recommend approaches that could help reduce the rates.
A report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday (June 7), showed that rates of death by suicide in the United States have risen by roughly 25 percent in the last couple decades.
Though the reasons for that increase are not completely clear, in past research, experts have pointed to an increased sense of isolation among Americans, as well economic factors and a rise in mental illness.
Other pointed to the rise of technology, which has replaced important face-to-face interactions (though some argue technology actually decreases loneliness.
But in the end, all of these explanations are speculative.
It’s very hard to make broad statements about suicide, said Dr. Katalin Szanto, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, who has published widely on suicide prevention. For instance, it is now the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 in the U.S., and yet many researchers think aging Baby Boomers will be especially vulnerable to suicide in the coming years, Szanto said.
And previous CDC reports indicated that suicide in the U.S. is often connected to other forms of violence, such as bullying, sexual violence or child abuse, according to the most recent study. Yet rates of those forms of violence have not increased, and in possibly dropped, in the past two decades.
Likewise, it’s clear that if people can find help the first time that they consider suicide, they are more likely to recover and never make another attempt. And yet, people who have made an attempt once are much more likely to try again, Szanto said.
Stopping individual suicides is possible. For instance, in a 10-year study at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, doctors and therapists employed several interventions that led to an 80-percent drop in suicide rates, Live Science previously reported. (One such method involved asking depressed patients how they envisioned dying. Doctors then created systematic roadblocks to enacting that vision.

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