It’s Not Just the US Where Suicide Rates Are on the Rise

Every newspaper in America seems to be highlighting the current issue of Vital Signs, in which the CDC announced that suicide rates have gone up by more than 30 percent in half of all states since 1999:

The biggest increases are in small-population states in the upper plains, so the overall suicide rate is closer to 25 percent than 30+. However, that’s still a big increase, and most advanced countries have seen flat or declining suicide rates during this period. However, that’s not true of all countries. There are a number of peer countries that have also shown increases:

The big dot in each line indicates the year that suicide rates started to turn up. Generally, speaking, the US rate started rising earlier and more steeply than most countries. However, suicide rates in Mexico and South Korea had already been rising for years by the time the upward trend began in the US. Italy (not shown) followed suit in 2006, the Netherlands in 2007, Australia in 2008, and Great Britain in 2012. France, conversely, started high but has been dropping for decades. Germany, Scandinavia, and Canada (not shown) have all been down or flat too.

South Korea and Mexico may have measurement issues, and the other countries on the rise have shown only small increases. The United States really is an outlier here. Still, it’s not a total outlier, and there are definitely some upward trends in suicide elsewhere in the world. More research, please.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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