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National suicide rate increases, data shows largest one year rise over twenty years

WASHINGTON, DC — New data reveals an alarming trend nationwide -- the number of people dying by suicide again rises after several years of declines.

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The national suicide rate increased by 4% from 2020 to 2021, according to a new National Center for Health Statistics report. It is the most significant annual increase over twenty years.

Kristina Woodahl Brown’s whole family has been impacted by suicide. It started when she was just eleven.

“My mother took her life,” she recalled. “It was after my father passed away that I really knew that I must address it.”

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Woodahl Brown has become an advocate for resources for those who are struggling. There are many in need of help. The new report shows suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34.

“You can say it’s depressing, but this needs to be known,” explained Sally Curtin, whose work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on statistics about death.

“The increase in 2021 compared to 2020 was broad,” Curtin said. “Both males and females had a 4% increase and virtually every age group and virtually every race and ethnicity group.”

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Data shows girls ages 10 to 14 saw the most significant percentage increase in suicide rates from 2001 to 2021.

“Those are, you know, middle school students we’re talking about,” Curtin lamented.

For Curtin, this work can be difficult, but she hopes it could save lives in communities across the country.

“I realize that you do need the numbers to inform policy, to inform prevention specialists,” she added. “You can’t solve a problem until you can adequately measure it and understand the problem that you’re dealing with.”

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Only accidents like drownings and car crashes kill more people than suicide.

Resources are available for those in need from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.

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