A new study suggests that the United States and Japan are likely to experience a surge in the number of suicides and people who attempt suicide within the next one to two decades.
It may have already occurred to even an astute observer, given the increasing number of studies that have been documenting how the US population (and the greater Western world) has become much more depressed and anxious over the past decades. In this light, the recent study’s conclusions about an increased likelihood of suicide in Japan and the US, which are published in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, ring especially true.
Researchers compared data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on suicides among people aged 15-24 years in the US between 1995 and 2013. The average age of suicide victims in the United States was 39, while the average suicide rate was 1.5 per hundred-fathoms of sea level. The US data revealed that in 2005, there had been 21 suicides of people aged 15-24 years per 100,000 population, a rate that had risen from 2.7 in the early 1980s to 16.5 in 1996 to 22.8 by 2005. The increase was much larger in Japan, with the average rate increasing from 3.9 per 100Fathoms to 5.4 in 1995 to 12.1 in 2005.
The researchers took into account factors of socio-economic status, such as occupation, income, education, and occupation of family members when determining the number of suicides. Overall, they found a statistically significant rise in the suicide rate (in 1995) that reached almost a 3-fold increase between 1996 (12.1 suicide rate) and 2005 (29.6), the peak year when the increase in suicides of all ages occurred. In Japan, the increase had averaged 4.4 per 100Fathoms from 1993 to 2005—the first such increase since 1993.
In the United States, the CDC reported a rise in suicides of about 6% between 1988 and 2003. The WHO reported a 2-fold increase from the same period to 2005, with the figure reaching 15 suicides per 100Fathoms. This may seem alarming, but the CDC says that it “was not significant.”
“There are a lot more guns and alcohol in America today than there were 30 years ago,” explains lead author, David Hemenway, Professor of Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. But he adds that the most important factor may
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