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JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Nov 1;74(11):1095-1103. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2582.

National Trends in Suicide Attempts Among Adults in the United States.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York.
The New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rockville, Maryland.
Division of Biometry and Epidemiology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Maryland.



A recent increase in suicide in the United States has raised public and clinical interest in determining whether a coincident national increase in suicide attempts has occurred and in characterizing trends in suicide attempts among sociodemographic and clinical groups.


To describe trends in recent suicide attempts in the United States.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Data came from the 2004-2005 wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and the 2012-2013 NESARC-III. These nationally representative surveys asked identical questions to 69 341 adults, 21 years and older, concerning the occurrence and timing of suicide attempts. Risk differences adjusted for age, sex, and race/ethnicity (ARDs) assessed trends from the 2004-2005 to 2012-2013 surveys in suicide attempts across sociodemographic and psychiatric disorder strata. Additive interactions tests compared the magnitude of trends in prevalence of suicide attempts across levels of sociodemographic and psychiatric disorder groups. The analyses were performed from February 8, 2017, through May 31, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Self-reported attempted suicide in the 3 years before the interview.


With use of data from the 69 341 participants (42.8% men and 57.2% women; mean [SD] age, 48.1 [17.2] years), the weighted percentage of US adults making a recent suicide attempt increased from 0.62% in 2004-2005 (221 of 34 629) to 0.79% in 2012-2013 (305 of 34 712; ARD, 0.17%; 95% CI, 0.01%-0.33%; P = .04). In both surveys, most adults with recent suicide attempts were female (2004-2005, 60.17%; 2012-2013, 60.94%) and younger than 50 years (2004-2005, 84.75%; 2012-2013, 80.38%). The ARD for suicide attempts was significantly larger among adults aged 21 to 34 years (0.48%; 95% CI, 0.09% to 0.87%) than among adults 65 years and older (0.06%; 95% CI, -0.02% to 0.14%; interaction P = .04). The ARD for suicide attempts was also significantly larger among adults with no more than a high school education (0.49%; 95% CI, 0.18% to 0.80%) than among college graduates (0.03%; 95% CI, -0.17% to 0.23%; interaction P = .003); the ARD was also significantly larger among adults with antisocial personality disorder (2.16% [95% CI, 0.61% to 3.71%] vs 0.07% [95% CI, -0.09% to 0.23%]; interaction P = .01), a history of violent behavior (1.04% [95% CI, 0.35% to 1.73%] vs 0.00% [95% CI, -0.12% to 0.12%]; interaction P = .003), or a history of anxiety (1.43% [95% CI, 0.47% to 2.39%] vs 0.18% [95% CI, 0.04% to 0.32%]; interaction P = .01) or depressive (0.99% [95% CI, -0.09% to 2.07%] vs -0.08% [95% CI, -0.20% to 0.04%]; interaction P = .05) disorders than among adults without these conditions.

Conclusions and Relevance:

A recent overall increase in suicide attempts among adults in the United States has disproportionately affected younger adults with less formal education and those with antisocial personality disorder, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and a history of violence.

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