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Carolyn Hax

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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 10/21/2011

For every suicide, many more thoughts, plans and attempts

A sobering report Thursday from the CDC shows that thousands of U.S. adults take their own lives each year -- and that many millions of others seriously contemplate killing themselves or make an attempt to do so.

The report analyzed data from 2008 and 2009 about suicidal thoughts and behaviors among non-institutionalized adults ages 18 and older collected through the mental-health section of a survey conducted through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

According to the report, 36,035 people died as a result of suicide in 2008, and about 666,000 people visited hospital emergency departments for nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries that year. During 2008-2009, an estimated 8.3 million people age 18 and up -- 3.7 percent of the U.S. adult population -- reported that they’d had suicidal thoughts in the past year.

An estimated 2.2 million adults -- 1 percent of the adult population -- reported they’d made plans to commit suicide in the past year. And about 1 million U.S. adults -- 0.5 percent of the adult population -- said they’d actually attempted suicide in the past year.

The prevalence of suicidal thoughts and suicide planning and attempts was higher among people ages 18 to 29 than among those over 30; the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, but not planned or attempted suicide, was higher among women than men.

The report found that the prevalence of having suicidal thoughts ranged from 2.1 percent in Georgia to 6.8 percent in Utah and that the prevalence of reports of suicide planning ranged from 0.1 percent in Georgia to 2.8 percent in Rhode Island. The prevalence of reports of suicide attempts ranged from 0.1 percent in Delaware and Georgia to 1.5 percent in Rhode Island.

The report concludes that understanding variations in suicide-related thoughts and behaviors across the population may be key to developing and implementing successful intervention and programs.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 10/21/2011

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