- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2022

The U.S. suicide rate rose in 2021 after two years of decline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

The number of suicides increased from 45,979 in 2020 to 47,646 in 2021, according to preliminary data released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Over the same period, the suicide rate increased from 13.5 to 14 suicides for every 100,000 people, the CDC’s Vital Statistics Rapid Release found.

According to the CDC, the increase comes after a 3.2% drop in suicides from 2018 to 2019 and a 1.7% drop from 2019 to 2020.

The U.S. had 48,344 suicides in 2018, 47,511 in 2019 and 45,979 in 2020.

In a statement on the report, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention noted that the number of suicides last year remained lower than the peak set in 2018.

Although the CDC report did not give a reason for the increase, the suicide prevention group’s statement cited “the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting effect on our nation’s mental health.”

“We cannot yet fully understand the entire impact of the pandemic on suicide deaths for the longer-term as it takes years to collect comprehensive data and analyze it in a meaningful way,” the foundation said.

According to the CDC, the largest increase in suicides was an 8% spike among boys and men between the ages of 15 and 24. From 2020 to 2021, suicide rates remained stable for women of all ages and men aged 55 to 64.

The largest difference in monthly suicides occurred in October. The number for that month rose from 3,781 in 2020 to 4,211 in 2021, when new COVID-19 cases soared and health restrictions lengthened.

In July, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a national 988 suicide crisis line, and suicide prevention advocates say Friday’s report underscores the need.

More than 200 state and local call centers funded by Health and Human Services received 3.6 million calls, chats and texts on the hotline last year, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC expects that number to double within the first full year of the new 988 number.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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