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U.S. suicide rate rises to a 30-year high

Washington: A federal data analysis has found that suicide in the United States has increased to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly outrageous for women.

The overall suicide rate increased by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, as per the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.

Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said, "It's really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group."

Researchers also found a shocking increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had become three times. The number of girls who killed themselves increased to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999.

There are many groups that are helping people having suicidal thoughts. Crisis Text Line, inspired by teenagers' love for texting but open to people of all ages, offers free assistance to anyone who texts "help" to 741-741. If you like talking on the phone, N.I.H. recommends the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Policy makers say efforts to prevent suicide across the country are patterned. While some hospitals and health systems provide screening for suicidal thinking and operate good treatment programs, many do not.

Dr. Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the National Institute of Mental Health's Suicide Research Consortium said, "We have more and more effective treatments, but we have to figure out how to bake them into health care systems so they are used more automatically. We've got bits and pieces, but we haven't really put them all together yet."

The question of what has hiked the increases is unknown, leaving experts to think on the reasons. Julie Phillips, a professor of sociology at Rutgers who has observed suicide among middle-aged Americans, said social changes could be increasing the risks. Marriage rates have reduced while divorce rates have increased, leading to increased social isolation, she said. Thwarted expectations of social and economic well-being among less educated white men from the baby-boom generation may also be responsible, she said.

The gap in suicide rates for men and women has dropped because women's rates are rising faster than men's. But men still commit suicide at a rate 3.6 times that of women.