Contributed by Stephanie Weatherly, DNP, PMH RN-BC, FACHE
Psychiatric Medical Care/Senior Life Solutions Chief Clinical Officer

We would like to discuss recent data collected about suicide rates and their continued effect on communities across the country. Death by suicide is a worldwide health epidemic. Suicidal ideation and death by suicide are incredibly complex, with multiple factors playing a part. These factors include brain chemistry, trauma history, social and cultural environment, and current stressors. There is still much unknown about death by suicide.

Recent data released by the CDC was surprising. It showed a 3% reduction in death by suicide in 2020 despite an increase in reported depression and anxiety during the pandemic. There was anticipation that death by suicide could potentially see an increase as well; however, thankfully, that did not occur. The “why” behind the numbers is difficult to deduce and further emphasizes the complexities around death by suicide. Let us look at the data offered by the CDC.

Suicide Mortality in the US from 2000-2020 (

  • After increasing from 2000 through 2018, the age-adjusted suicide rate declined from 2018 (14.2 per 100,000) to 2020 (13.5).
  • Suicide rates for females in all age groups over age 25 showed recent declines, while rates for those aged 10–14 and 15–24 have increased.
  • Between 2018 and 2020, suicide rates decreased in males aged 45–64 and 65–74.
  • For females in 2020, the rate of firearm-related suicide (1.8) was higher than rates of suicide by poisoning (1.5) and suffocation (1.7).
  • For males in 2020, the leading means of suicide was firearm (12.5), at a rate twice that of suffocation (6.1), the second leading means.

This graphic from the CDC on death by suicide by age range for 2019 and 2020 shows that while it is wonderful that we see a 3% overall decline, the number of deaths by suicide is still high and did increase for some age groups.

Next week, we will discuss the different influential facets that can contribute to suicidal ideation and death by suicide. Understanding these factors can help us when making clinical decisions regarding a person’s suicide risk.

Remember, Excelsior Springs Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions program, is designed to meet the unique needs of individuals typically 65 and older experiencing depression or anxiety related to life changes that are often associated with aging. If someone you know is struggling with a decline in their mental health, our program wants you to know we are here to help. Whether through our program, or another service, our team works to identify and address the emotional needs of those in our community and provide support. 

If you need more information or education or would like to discuss support, please call 816-629-2629 or visit Senior Life Solutions – Excelsior Springs Hospital (

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