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What to Know: KFF Analysis on Suicide Death Rates from 2010–2020

Supporting behavioral health is a top priority to address growing crisis

June 22, 2022

New analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation outlines the devastating toll of suicide from 2010 through 2020, as well as the communities and people who have been affected during the decade.

More than 480,000 lives were lost to suicide during that period, with deaths increasing 12 percent overall, the report said.

“The number of suicide deaths peaked at 48,344 in 2018 and then decreased slightly in 2019 and 2020, although some research suggests that some suicides may be misclassified as drug overdose deaths,” the report noted. “Between 2019 and 2020, drug overdose deaths increased by 31 percent.”

Among the takeaways from the report: 

  • Leading cause:  Suicide deaths by firearms accounted for more than half of all suicides during 2020.
  • Largest increases:  Significant increases in suicide death rates during the past decade were reported in rural areas (23 percent), among adolescents (62 percent) and young adults between 18 and 23 (33 percent). The report notes concerns about shortages of mental health workers in rural areas.
  • By race and ethnicity:  There were significant increases in suicide death rates among people of color, with Black people experiencing the largest increase during the decade (43%), followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (41%), and Hispanic people (27%).
  • A new initiative:  Starting next month, the 988 dialing code will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a crisis counselor to receive help, resources, and referrals. The three-digit dialing code will be available across the U.S. starting July 16.
  • Resources available:  If you or are loved one are in need of free and confidential support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at (800) 273-8255; Spanish: (888) 628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: (800) 799-4889.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community continue to advocate for action to support the behavioral health of our communities. This month, the commonwealth has an opportunity to expand behavioral health services that will help Pennsylvanians access the care they need when and where they need it. 

Through the Healthy Me PA community, HAP is encouraging everyone to contact their legislators to support behavioral health care and patients across the state. Learn more about Pennsylvania’s behavioral health crisis online.