A new CDC report, Vital Statistics Report showed a slight decrease in suicides in 2020 in comparison to 2019. The year 2020 had 45,855 suicides which was 3 percent lower than in 2019 (47,511). The largest percentage difference between monthly numbers for 2019 and 2020 occurred in April, where the provisional number in 2020 (3,468) was 14% lower than in 2019 (4,029).
Some of the recent reports on suicides, especially regarding youth, have not been positive. Annual suicides had increased steadily from 2003 through 2018, followed by a 2% decline between 2018 and 2019. In the United States, suicide increased 35% from 1999 to 2018 before declining by 2% in 2019. The preliminary 2020 number (45,855) is 5% below the 2018 peak (48,344). These findings are consistent with a 21-country study (including data from five U.S. states) that found no increase in suicides during the first half of 2020.
The age-adjusted suicide rate was 2% lower in 2020 than in 2019 for males and 8% lower for females. All rates for females in all race and Hispanic-origin groups experienced declines in between 2019 and 2020, although only the 10% decline for non-Hispanic white females was significant.
Rates declined for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian males but increased for non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic males.
When adjusted for age, the numbers were more limited but also not positive. The report indicates that rates for persons aged 10–14, 15–24, and 25–34 increased between 2019 and 2020, but only the 5% increase for those aged 25–34 (from 17.5 to 18.3) was considered significant according to the analysis.
A note of caution as the report concludes: “As the numbers and rates presented in this report are provisional, they are subject to change. Reporting of suicides can be delayed due to investigations regarding the cause and circumstances surrounding the death. Suicides for females are more likely to be incomplete in this report than suicides for males, as their deaths more frequently involve drug poisonings. Nonetheless, this analysis is based on more than 99% of expected death records and the lag from the event to the reporting is more than 6 months for all months except December. Based on previous patterns between provisional and final data, the findings in this report are expected to be consistent with final 2020 data.”