Suicide Mortality in the U.S., 1999–2019

October 01, 2021
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A study looked at trends in suicide mortality from 1999 to 2019, using data from the National Vital Statistics System stratified by sex, age group, and suicide method. It found that the total age-adjusted suicide rate increased 35.2% from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.2 in 2018, and then decreased by 2.1% to 13.9 in 2019.

Additional findings include:

  • Suicide rates for females increased from 1999 to 2019 for all age groups except 75 and older. During this period, rates were highest among women ages 45 to 64, followed by women 25 to 44. 
  • Suicide rates for males increased between 1999 and 2019 for all age groups except those 75 and older. However, suicide rates were highest for men ages 75 and older.
  • Rates for both females and males were lowest in the 10 to 14 age group.
  • Suicide rates by sex and age group remained stable or declined from 2018 through 2019
  • Firearm suicide increased from 1.5 in 1999 to 1.4 in 2007, increased to 1.9 in 2016, then remained stable through 2019.
  • Among females, there was a shift away from suicide by poisoning with higher rates for firearms suffocation.
  • Among males, suicide rates by firearms and suffocation also increased.

These findings can help guide suicide prevention strategies and assist in identifying populations at elevated risk. Increased rates of firearm suicide among both sexes indicate a need for more efforts to reduce access to guns among those at risk.

Spark Extra! Take SPRC’s free Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) online course.

Hedegaard, H., Curtin, S. C., & Warner, M. (2021). Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2019. NCHS Data Brief, no 398. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.15620/cdc:101761