There is no single cause to suicide. It most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition.
Suicide Rates by Age
In 2015, the highest suicide rate (19.6) was among adults between 45 and 64 years of age. The second highest rate (19.4) occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2015, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 12.5.
Suicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity
In 2015, the highest U.S. suicide rate (15.1) was among Whites and the second highest rate (12.6) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (Figure 5). Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Asians and Pacific Islanders (6.4), and Blacks (5.6).
Note that the CDC records Hispanic origin separately from the primary racial or ethnic groups of White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander, since individuals in all of these groups may also be Hispanic.
In 2015, firearms were the most common method of death by suicide, accounting for a little less than half (49.8%) of all suicide deaths. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hangings) at 26.8% and poisoning at 15.4%.
No complete count is kept of suicide attempts in the U.S.; however, each year the CDC gathers data from hospitals on non-fatal injuries from self-harm.
494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. This number suggests that approximately 12 people harm themselves for every reported death by suicide. However, because of the way these data are collected, we are not able to distinguish intentional suicide attempts from non-intentional self-harm behaviors.
Many suicide attempts, however, go unreported or untreated. Surveys suggest that at least one million people in the U.S. each year engage in intentionally inflicted self-harm.
Females attempt suicide twice as often as males. As with suicide deaths, rates of attempted suicide vary considerably among demographic groups. Males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide. The ratio of suicide attempts to suicide death in youth is estimated to be about 25:1, compared to about 4:1 in the elderly.