Why is this happening?
The CDC team dug deeply into suicide details in 27 states. Here’s what they found:
n 54 percent did not have a known mental health condition
n 42 percent had a relationship problem
n 28 percent had substance abuse issues
n 16 percent had job or financial problems
n 29 percent had some kind of crisis
n 22 percent had a physical health issue
n 9 percent had a criminal legal problem
How to help
n States can help ease unemployment and housing stress by providing temporary help.
n Health care systems can offer treatment options by phone or online where services are not widely available.
n Communities can offer programs and events to increase a sense of belonging among residents.
n Schools can teach students skills to manage challenges like relationship and school problems.
n If you see someone who may be struggling, ask them about it and stay with them.
n If you are looking for help, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741.
More Americans are dying of suicides.
We received three big reminders of that fact this week — two celebrity deaths and a monumental report.
It all goes to show that we rarely understand the hidden pain in people's lives.
Anthony Bourdain, ebullient host of CNN's "Parts Unknown," was found dead of suicide in a hotel room near Strasbourg, France, where he was shooting an episode for the show. He was reportedly in a durable, romantic relationship and had an 11-year-old daughter he loved. Just days before, successful and upbeat designer Kate Spade hung herself in her New York apartment. She was in a longterm marriage and had a 13-year-old daughter she loved.
The deaths came in a week when new government statistics found a staggering 30 percent increase in suicides by Americans from 1999 to 2016. A team of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said nearly 45,000 Americans took their own lives in 2016, and nowhere is the trend more pronounced than in rural counties.
By literally mapping the suicides, by county between 2005 and 2015, the Washington Post used the report's information to create an animation that shows a persistent, nationwide increase, but also finds already high rates of suicide going even higher in rural Western counties, as well as a swiftly rising swath of deaths running from Oklahoma through the Appalachians.
Overall, the CDC's most granular-ever and county-by-county report found that nearly half of rural counties saw their suicide rates increase by 30 percent or more. By contrast, 10 percent of the largest urban counties experienced a similar rate of increase.
There are more differences. Across the Deep South, counties with high proportions of black residents have lower rates of suicide than surrounding areas. Suicide rates tend to be lower in counties with large Hispanic populations and higher in counties with large Native American populations.
In Tennessee and Alabama, annual suicide rates from 1999 to 2016 rose in a range from 19 to 30 percent, according to the CDC. In Georgia and North Carolina, it rose in a range of 6 to 18 percent.
Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the seventh leading cause of death for American men.
News reports said experts worry this reflects a breakdown in social bonds and in communities.
Only about half of the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition, even though depression had been thought to be the major cause of suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said. The CDC also noted that relationship stress, financial troubles and substance abuse were contributing to the trends.
"Middle-aged adults [Bourdain was 61 and Spade was 55] had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing," said CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
But she said the CDC team found almost no group is exempt from the rise in suicide rates — except people over age 75.
Firearms were the most common method used — resulting in nearly half of all suicides — followed by hanging or suffocation, and poisoning.
"Opioids were present in 31 percent of individuals who died by poisoning," Schuchat said, though she noted it was difficult to separate suicide from overdose in opioid use.
Veterans made up about 18 percent of adult suicides, but represent only about 8.5 percent of the U.S. adult population.
"We are in a different era right now, with social media increased and also social isolation is high," Schuchat told NBC. "We think helping overcome the isolation can improve the connectedness."