Data & Statistics
Suicide and suicidal behavior is a leading cause of injury and death worldwide. Information about the epidemiology of such behavior is important for policy-making and prevention.
Citing a recent Surgeon General’s report, the CDC concludes:
Suicide prevention strategies such as those that enhance social support, community connectedness, and access to mental health and preventive services, as well as efforts to reduce stigma and barriers associated with seeking help, are important for addressing suicide risk across the lifespan. Other strategies are likely to be particularly critical for addressing the needs of middle-aged adults, such as those that help persons overcome risk factors, which include economic challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, the stress of caregiver responsibilities (often for children and aging parents), substance abuse, and declining health or chronic health problems.
These are issues that seldom make the news as precipitating events for suicide, since we focus so much attention to challenges in adolescence and young adulthood. The CDC has data on the most common events that precede suicide, as seen below.
Data from the CDC tell us that the risk of suicide rates increases with age, until age 65, and that access to mental health care is important across the life span—it does not end with adolescence. As noted above, men are also at much greater risk for suicide than women, as are Native Americans and non-Hispanic whites, whose rates are more than double those of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans.
Looking at actual data is a great way to test whether commonly held assumptions are correct. In this case, we have a lot to learn about why people might decide to take their own lives. Suicide is not caused just by personal psychological problems; challenges with relationships, work, and physical health are central to understanding suicide, and are central to helping to create other solutions for people in desperate situations. Addressing broader social issues like access to health care, the economy, and family stressors can play significant roles in reducing suicides, particularly among people who might be facing financial problems after the Great Recession with aging parents and children of their own to care for.
What hypotheses can we create based on these data? About the relationship between gender and suicide? Race/ethnicity and suicide? The recent increase among people in their 50s?
What other assumptions do we often hold about suicide—or another social issue—that we can use data to study more closely?
**Resource: Everyday Sociology Blog
Georgia has 65 counties out of 159 that are above the national avrage. Below is the list of the top 30 Counties with the highest rates in Georgia.
65 Georgia counties are above the national average.