Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for more American deaths than Parkinson’s disease, liver disease or hypertension. In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide—an average of 129 per day. The number of suicide deaths is dwarfed by the number of attempts—estimated at roughly 1.4 million in the United States that same year. More than 10 million American adults reported that they seriously thought about suicide in 2017.
The problem is getting worse. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the age-adjusted rate of suicide in the United States rose by about 30 percent in the last two decades, with increases for almost every age group. The suicide rate has increased every year for the past decade.
The growing suicide rate in the United States is driven in large part by the lethality and easy accessibility of guns, which in 2017 were used in more than half of suicides. About 85 percent of those who attempt suicide with a gun die; without a gun, about 95 percent survive. Research shows that the impulse of suicide often is sudden and transitory, and nine of 10 survivors do not attempt again. An analysis of 14 scientific studies found that having access to a firearm triples the risk of death by suicide.