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Chart: America’s Rising Suicide Problem

Suicides now kill more Americans each year than car crashes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2010 alone, 38,364 killed themselves in the United States — 4,600 more than were killed in motor vehicle accidents. It’s a statistic CDC Director Dr. Thomas Friden summed up in a single phrase: “Far too common,” he said — especially among middle-aged Americans.

Between 1999 and 2010, the suicide rate for U.S. adults between the ages of 35 and 64 jumped a full 28 percent, from nearly 14 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 18 per 100,000 in 2010. Particularly startling increases were seen among whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Meanwhile, the rates for those between 10 and 34, as well as those 65 and older, did not change significantly during that period, the CDC reported.

On Friday evening’s PBS NewsHour broadcast, Frieden will join Ray Suarez to discuss why the middle-age Americans are taking their lives at such alarming rates. In the meantime, here’s a visual representation of the trend among 35- to 64-year-olds:

Among the CDC’s other key findings:

  • The greatest increases in suicide rates were among people aged 50 to 54 years (48 percent) and 55 to 59 years (49 percent).

  • Among racial/ethnic groups, the greatest increases in suicide rates were among white non-Hispanics (40 percent) and American Indian and Alaska Natives (65 percent).
    Suicide rates increased 23 percent or more across all four major regions of the United States.

  • Suicide rates increased 81 percent for hanging/suffocation, compared to 14 percent for firearm and 24 percent for poisoning.

  • Firearm and hanging/suffocation were the most common suicide mechanisms for middle-aged men. Poisoning and firearm were the most common mechanisms for middle-aged women.

Check back here Friday evening for the NewsHour’s full report.

Top photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images. Charts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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