April 22 (UPI) -- A rising number of Americans has attempted suicide in recent years -- and increasing numbers have died -- according to a new analysis published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry has found.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there were more than 1.2 million suicide attempts across the country between 2006 and 2015, and that there was a 10 percent increase in incidents of people attempting suicide over the 10-year period.
In addition, the fatality rate from these incidents increased by 13 percent during the last decade, which suggests people may be choosing more "lethal" means in the attempts, the agency said.
"The pattern of changes in the incidence rates and lethality of suicidal acts varied among demographic groups," study co-author Dr. Jing Wang, an epidemiologist with the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, told UPI. "More people carried out suicidal acts... and suicidal acts became more lethal in the working age population. Understanding these population level epidemiological patterns may help guide suicide prevention efforts."
The findings echo those of a CDC report issued earlier this month, which indicated that the suicide rate in the United States increased by 35 percent between 1998 and 2018. It's been estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 Americans take their own lives each year.
For the new study, CDC researchers analyzed statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and Nationwide Emergency Department Sample databases, and identified suicide-related deaths from the mortality files of the National Vital Statistics System. They calculated the case fatality rates, or "lethality," of suicidal acts by dividing the number of suicides by the total number of attempts.
Over the study period, they found that lethality increased by an average of 2.3 percent annually. Incidence of suicidal acts increased by an average of 1.1 percent per year among women, while suicide-related deaths among women increased by an average of 5 percent per year between 2010 and 2015, they noted.
Among adolescents -- defined as those between 10 and 19 years of age -- incidence of suicidal acts remained "stable" for the first half of the study period, but increased sharply, by an annual average of nearly 8 percent, over the second half, the CDC authors found.
Their analysis also suggests that adults between 20 and 64 years of age chose more lethal means for taking their own lives, with case fatality rates increasing by around 3 percent annually for both groups over the 10 years assessed.
"To help keep people safe, we can all learn the signs of suicide risk and how to respond to these signs through what's called gatekeeper training," Wang said. "Some of the signs to look for include: looking for means of suicide, expressing thoughts of suicide, increased substance use, and changes in mood, to name just a few."