Franklin James Cook

Study Gives 1st Picture of Suicide Attempts in U.S.

In Prevention, Research on September 17, 2009 at 6:49 am

A news release today from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “provides important insights into the nature and scope of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

Nearly 8.3 million adults (age 18 and older) in the U.S. (3.7 percent) had serious thoughts of committing suicide in the past year according to the first national scientific survey of its size on this public health problem. The study … shows that 2.3 million adult Americans made a suicide plan in the past year and that 1.1 million adults–0.5 percent of all adult Americans–had actually attempted suicide in the past year.

The study also uncovered a strong relationship between substance abuse disorders and having thoughts of suicide or making a suicide attempt.

People experiencing substance abuse disorders within the past year were more than three times as likely to have seriously considered committing suicide as those who had not experienced a substance abuse disorder (11.0 percent versus 3.0 percent). Those with past year substance abuse disorders were also 4 times more likely to have planned a suicide than those without substance abuse disorders (3.4 percent versus 0.8 percent), and nearly seven times more likely to have attempted suicide (2.0 percent versus 0.3 percent).

Dr. Eric Broderick, SAMHSA Acting Administrator, framed the study results as a call to action for establishing suicide prevention as a national priority:

“While there are places that people in crisis can turn to for help like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the magnitude of the public health crisis revealed by this study should motivate us as a nation to do everything possible to reach out and help the millions who are at risk–preferably well before they are in immediate danger.”

The study, titled “Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors among Adults,” uses data from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the full report is available online from SAMHSA.

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