Suicide Epidemic In America Alarming: Why Are People Killing Themselves, Rates Rising?

A troublesome trend is emerging across the country, and healthcare officials are hard-pressed to find answers and new prevention methods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates are approaching epidemic levels. Officials say the number of suicidal people who carry out their plans has increased over the last 15 years. Why are scores of people killing themselves in the United States?

The health watchdog agency recently revealed that suicides rates had increased by a whopping 24 percent across the board since 1999, according to a Breitbart report. Two categories are of particular concern to researchers on this troublesome epidemic.

One category includes girls aged 10-14 years old. Statistics among this group showed that rates of suicide not only increased, but it tripled to 1.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2014. All told, about 150 young girls committed suicide, which marks a 200 percent spike since 1999.

Victor Fornari is the Glen Oaks, New York director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital. He weighed in on the rising rates.

“We are seeing younger and younger kids dying by suicide.

“I think it may be a reflection of access to social media, Internet and cyberbullying, and youth are hurried. They are being exposed to things sooner than they would have been.”

The other group included in this epidemic is men. Study results show that over the last 15 years, male suicide rates have risen sharply by 62 percent.

Current numbers have men dying this way at nearly 18 per 100,000 in 1999. While female rates of suicide are 1.8 per 100,000, men die close to 100 percent more often. Methods of death are different for both genders: men usually die by firearm, women typically use poison.

A fair question has been asked in the past, and surprisingly, it’s likely not what you think: Is suicide contagious?

While suicide is not something one can “catch” in its very nature like the flu, there is growing consensus across genres that it can “spread” like a virus. Interpersonal relationships, a person’s genetic makeup, and even the media are all considered factors that increase the chances of suicide spreading like an epidemic, albeit with short cycles.

Case in point: according to a report out in January of 2013 by the United States Department of Defense, over 349 military personnel committed suicide in 2012. The deaths spanned across all four branches of the Armed Forces.

David Rudd, Dean and professor of psychology at the University of Utah’s College of Social and Behavioral Science, weighed in on the dramatic increases in suicide rates. Rudd believes the deaths are attributed to sympathetic and associative responses.

In other words, when news spreads of suicide, cohorts and those who identify with the deceased can have a viral effect. The behavior tends to affect those who are battling depression, struggling with a life-changing event, or are already on the cusp of an emotional breakdown.

“It tends to facilitate feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It also facilitates the false idea that suicide is a solution to life’s problems.”

The media’s role in this category of death has been studied for decades. Results from research suggest media coverage can often serve as a flashpoint for more suicides. Often, the victim’s death generates sympathy, and they are showered with praise and attention. The result is often copycat behavior from someone wanting to use death to end his or her anguish.

Jeffrey Borenstein is the CEO and president of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. He says suicidal people have some sort of psychological dysfunction. Bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse are co-factors that lead to the fatal act.

“If there was a finding about such a substantial increase in some other cause of death in the United States, this would be on the front page of all our newspapers and there would be a call to action on the part of public policy to address.”

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]