The rate of suicide in Connecticut has risen more than 19 percent over the last 17 years, but the state still compares well to others - a recent federal study found the national rate of suicide has risen almost 30 percent in the same period.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicide rates have risen in almost every state, and in more than half they’ve risen by 30 percent or more. In 2016, the last year of the data review, 45,000 Americans died by suicide.
Seventy-seven percent of those who take their own lives are white, middle aged men, but the largest increase over the study period was among middle aged women.
Dr Jill Harkavy-Friedman of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention told Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, there’s a lot more we could know about those at risk.
"We have been studying people, not women and men, but everybody together," she said. "These data and recent deaths highlight the need to study everybody, but then also break it down by factors like gender and sexual orientation and even unemployment."
Harkavy-Friedman believes federal research into the topic is sorely underfunded, and she said the study is a call to action. She wants to see more focus on solutions including medication, psychotherapy and reducing access to the means for suicide.
"In the CDC study, most people were not reported to have a mental health condition," she said, "and what we know from interviewing family members and friends is that 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition. So that discrepancy is a warning that we need to increase mental health awareness, and we need to increase access to care."
The CDC study steers clear of discussing firearms, but other statistics show that 51 percent of suicides in the U.S. involve guns.