Amid Good News, CDC Data Show Uptick in Deaths From Suicide

Amid yesterday's good news from the CDC that Americans are living longer than ever was a sobering fact. Rates for the top 10 causes of death all fell from 2011 to 2012, save one: suicide. The death rate increased from 12.3 to 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Amid yesterday’s good news from the CDC that Americans are living longer than ever was a sobering fact. Rates for the top 10 causes of death all fell from 2011 to 2012, save one: suicide.

According to CDC, rates for the top 2 causes of death, heart disease and cancer, fell more than a point each. Even death rates from diabetes, a disease with rising incidence, fell from 21.6 to 21.2 per 100,000 people.

But death rates from suicide rose from 12.3 to 12.6 deaths per 100,000, which is sure to draw attention given the focus that mental health has received in the past year. Managed care organizations have faced the implementation of a federal parity law as part of the Affordable Care Act, and some individual states are coming under fire for failing to ensure adequate access to care.

In New Jersey, the Asbury Park Press published an editorial this week declaring that mental health care was in a state of crisis, after a leading advocacy group published a Managed Care Network Adequacy Report,” which found 41% of the state’s psychiatrists were not accepting new patients or would only do so under limited circumstances.

At the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in May, and at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June, both groups called for more use of collaborative care models in treating patients with diabetes, because depression and other mental health issues can weigh on patients struggling to manage chronic conditions, resulting in poor health outcomes.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental health disorders, substance abuse, prior attempts at suicide, a family history of suicide, family violence, firearms in the home, incarceration, and the exposure of suicidal behavior in others, such as a family member or peer. NIMH Director Thomas Insel, MD, wrote in September 2014, that in recent decades, “Despite the increased availability of mental health care and medications for depression, the U.S. suicide rate has remained largely unchanged.”

Around the Web

Editorial: Access to Mental Health Care in Crisis

The Director’s Blog: Suicide a Global Issue

Mortality in the United States, 2012: Leading Causes of Death