Changes in Suicide Rates, 2018–2019

September 10, 2021
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A study found the overall suicide rate in the U.S. declined for the first time in more than a decade. While these results may be encouraging, they should be interpreted with caution.

Researchers used data on suicide deaths among adults ages 10 and older from the 2018–2019 National Vital Statistics System. Data were analyzed by age, race/ethnicity, gender, county urbanicity, means, and state. Following are some key findings:

  • From 2018 to 2019, suicide rates decreased by 2.1% overall (14.2 to 13.9/100,000), by 3.2% among females (6.2 to 6.0/100,000), and by 1.8% among males (22.8 to 22.4/100,000).
  • Suicide rates declined among White people but did not change significantly among any other racial/ethnic group. Rates in 2019 were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native people.
  • In 2019, suicide rates increased as the level of urbanicity decreased, with the lowest rates in large central metropolitan areas and the highest in non-metropolitan areas. 
  • Firearms were used in the largest proportion of suicides in 2019 (50.4%). The rate of firearm suicide decreased by 2.9% from 2018 to 2019.

Although this study found an overall decline in suicide deaths from 2018 to 2019, changes in rates over the course of a single year should not be interpreted as a trend. Disparities in rates among racial/ethnic groups call for a better understanding of contributing factors, and for increased prevention efforts among populations at higher risk. Suicide is preventable and most effectively addressed by a comprehensive approach that reduces risk and enhances protective factors.

Learn how building a strong suicide prevention infrastructure can help states, territories, and tribes effectively prevent suicide.

Stone, D. M., Jones, C. M., & Mack, K. A. (2021). Changes in suicide rates—United States, 2018–2019.  MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 70(8), 261–268.