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US suicides set record last year, CDC says
By:China Daily Global
update:December 06,2023

People walk on Times Square in New York, the United States, Nov 23, 2021. [PhotoXinhua]
Dec.6, 2023 -- The number of suicides in the United States reached a record high last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
More people in the US committed suicide last year than at any other time on record. A record of 49,449 people took their lives last year, a 3 percent rise over 2021 when 48,183 committed suicide, according to a report by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
The NCHS examined all death records from last year up to Aug 6, 2023, to get its tally. It found that there were 14.3 suicides per 100,000, the highest number seen since 1941, the CDC said.
The authors said the numbers could be higher when the final figures in December are added.
"Reporting of suicides in particular can be delayed due to investigations regarding the cause and circumstances surrounding the death," the authors noted.
White men aged 75 and older had the highest rate of suicide by a firearm last year, nearly 44 per 100,000.
Last year, the suicide rate for men was at 23.1 per 100,000, 1 percent higher than in 2021 at 22.8 per 100,000. Among women, it was 4 percent higher at 5.9 per 100,000 compared with 5.7 in 2021. Overall, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Last year, the government's Suicide and Crisis Lifeline got a national number 988 to help those suffering. It has reported a huge surge in calls from people desperate for help.
Racial gap
The number of people who took their own lives also varied by race and ethnicity. American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest rate at 26.7 deaths per 100,000.
Life expectancy, or the estimated time that a baby will live from birth, is now 77.5 years, comparable to 20 years ago.
Suicides and drug overdoses, along with deaths from heart disease, are important indicators of what age people are expected to die in the country.
At least 1.1 million people in the US died from COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic in 2020, figures showed. The respiratory illness caused life expectancy to fall from 78.8 years in 2019 to 76.4 years in 2021.
Karen Cassiday, clinical psychologist and managing director of The Anxiety Treatment Center in Greater Chicago, said the pandemic caused immense stress and that could explain the surge in suicides and substance abuse.
"The pandemic had several unique characteristics that lent themselves to triggering anxiety, depression," Cassiday said.
The aftereffects of the pandemic have lowered life expectancy for all racial groups last year. Native Americans saw a decline of nearly four years to 68, and African Americans saw life expectancy rates decline by two years.
William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, told China Daily that while we have made great strides forward, COVID-19 "will never disappear or vanish".
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