Special Report

2022 Among Absolute Worst Years for Suicide: US Deaths Since 1980

dragana991 / Getty Images

At least 49,449 people took their own lives in the United States in 2022, based on recently released provisional counts of death certificates by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The count is 2.6% higher than in 2021, and suggests that last year may have been the worst year for suicides ever recorded in the United States. The latest monthly suicide count of 4,173 in January means that the nation is on pace to set another record by the end of this year. 

While the suicide rate in the U.S. has risen dramatically over the last 43 years, the rate of deaths from all causes has consistently declined – with only two exceptions – since 1980, when the age-adjusted mortality rate across the country stood at 1,039 per 100,000 people. 

There were notable exceptions in 2015 and 2017, when the worsening opioid crisis moved the needle backwards. The relationship between suicide and opioid overdose deaths, which have sharply increased alongside suicide rates since approximately 1999, continues to be a major factor in the crisis. (See the cities with the most drug overdose deaths.

The overall death rate in the U.S. saw its largest declines since 1980 in the first 20 years of the new millennium, with the rate of 715 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 marking the lowest count in the 43-year period. Since 2019, however, that trend has reversed. The rate of deaths from all causes rose to 835.4 per 100,000 people in 2020 and 879.7 in 2021, falling only slightly to 832.8 in 2022. (These are the fastest growing causes of death in America.)

How to prevent suicide is a question that has been studied in Western medicine since the 1800’s, when mental illness started to be considered a cause of suicide instead of a sign of moral inferiority. A review of available evidence from recent studies indicates psychiatric disorders and substance use disorders are the most consistent predictors of suicide and suicidal behaviors. The prevalence of these psychiatric conditions is driven by the lack of economic and employment opportunities, the morbidity and freedom of women in society, and historical national cultural patterns, according to a 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine. (Here are some of the worst medical scandals in U.S. history.)

Among race and gender groups, whites and males appear most often on death certificates that identify suicide as the cause of death. Looking at data across four age cohorts, individuals aged 25 to 44 are the most likely victims of suicide (with 16,843 deaths), while U.S. residents older than 65 reported the sharpest increase in suicides last year (up 8.1% from 9,652 in 2021). 

To put this public health crisis into context, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of suicides per 100,000 U.S. residents in each year between 2023 and 1980, the oldest year from which consecutive annual data on suicides is available. We included total suicides, the mortality rate from all causes of death, and the resident population in the United States for each year. 

Click here to see the worst years for suicide in the United States

Methodology

24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of suicides per 100,000 U.S. residents in each year between 2023 and 1980, the oldest year from which consecutive annual data on suicides is available. We included total suicides, the mortality rate from all causes of death, and the resident population in the United States for each year. Suicide statistics are preliminary for 2022 and are only available for January in 2023, and came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The official suicide rate for 2022 had not been released as of Aug. 11, 2023. We estimated the suicide rate for 2022 using the CDC’s counts and the latest U.S. resident population statistics. Each year’s U.S. resident population came from tables compiled by the United Nations.

2023 (January)
> Rate per 100,000 people Not calculated
> Count according to death certificates: 4,173
> Death rate from all causes: – # highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 339,996,563

[in-text-ad]

2022
> Rate per 100,000 people 14.6 – the highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 49,449 – the most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 832.8 – #27 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 338,289,857

2021
> Rate per 100,000 people 14.1 – #3 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 48,183 – #3 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 879.7 – #18 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 336,997,624

2020
> Rate per 100,000 people 13.5 – #6 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 45,979 – #6 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 835.4 – #26 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 335,942,003

[in-text-ad-2]

2019
> Rate per 100,000 people 13.9 – #5 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 47,511 – #4 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 715.2 – #43 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 334,319,671

2018
> Rate per 100,000 people 14.2 – #2 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 48,344 – #2 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 723.6 – #42 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 332,140,037

[in-text-ad]

2017
> Rate per 100,000 people 14 – #4 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 47,173 – #5 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 731.9 – #38 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 329,791,231

2016
> Rate per 100,000 people 13.5 – #6 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 44,965 – #7 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 728.8 – #40 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 327,210,198

2015
> Rate per 100,000 people 13.3 – #8 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 44,193 – #8 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 733.1 – #36 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 324,607,776

[in-text-ad-2]

2014
> Rate per 100,000 people 13 – #9 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 42,826 – #9 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 724.6 – #41 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 322,033,964

2013
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.6 – #12 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 41,149 – #10 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 731.9 – #38 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 319,375,166

[in-text-ad]

2012
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.6 – #12 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 40,600 – #11 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 732.8 – #37 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 316,651,321

2011
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.3 – #20 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 39,518 – #12 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 741.3 – #35 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 313,876,608

2010
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.1 – #25 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 38,364 – #13 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 747 – #34 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 311,182,845

[in-text-ad-2]

2009
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.8 – #29 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 36,909 – #14 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 749.6 – #33 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 308,512,035

2008
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.6 – #31 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 36,035 – #15 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 774.9 – #32 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 305,694,910

[in-text-ad]

2007
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.3 – #33 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 34,598 – #16 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 775.3 – #31 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 302,743,399

2006
> Rate per 100,000 people 11 – #36 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 33,300 – #17 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 791.8 – #30 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 299,753,098

2005
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.9 – #38 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 32,637 – #18 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 815 – #28 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 296,842,670

[in-text-ad-2]

2004
> Rate per 100,000 people 11 – #36 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 32,439 – #19 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 813.7 – #29 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 293,947,885

2003
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.8 – #40 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,484 – #21 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 843.5 – #25 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 291,109,820

[in-text-ad]

2002
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.9 – #38 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,655 – #20 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 855.9 – #24 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 288,350,252

2001
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.7 – #41 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,622 – #30 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 858.8 – #23 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 285,470,493

2000
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.4 – #43 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 29,350 – #37 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 869 – #22 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 282,398,554

[in-text-ad-2]

1999
> Rate per 100,000 people 10.5 – #42 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 29,314 – #39 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 875.6 – #20 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 279,181,581

1998
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.1 – #35 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,618 – #32 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 870.6 – #21 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 275,835,018

[in-text-ad]

1997
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.2 – #34 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,508 – #33 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 878.1 – #19 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 272,395,438

1996
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.5 – #32 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,933 – #27 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 894.1 – #17 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 268,984,347

1995
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.8 – #29 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,348 – #22 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 909.8 – #15 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 265,660,556

[in-text-ad-2]

1994
> Rate per 100,000 people 11.9 – #28 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,211 – #24 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 913.5 – #14 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 262,273,589

1993
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.1 – #25 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,312 – #23 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 926.1 – #12 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 258,779,753

[in-text-ad]

1992
> Rate per 100,000 people 12 – #27 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,621 – #31 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 905.6 – #16 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 255,175,339

1991
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.3 – #20 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,942 – #26 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 922.3 – #13 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 251,560,189

1990
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.5 – #15 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 31,010 – #25 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 938.7 – #11 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 248,083,732

[in-text-ad-2]

1989
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.3 – #20 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,129 – #35 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 950.5 – #10 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 244,954,094

1988
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.5 – #15 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,286 – #34 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 975.7 – #8 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 242,287,814

[in-text-ad]

1987
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.8 – #11 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,701 – #29 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 970 – #9 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 239,853,168

1986
> Rate per 100,000 people 13 – #9 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 30,877 – #28 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 978.6 – #7 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 237,512,783

1985
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.5 – #15 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 29,393 – #36 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 988.1 – #4 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 235,146,182

[in-text-ad-2]

1984
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.6 – #12 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 29,329 – #38 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 982.5 – #6 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 232,766,280

1983
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.4 – #19 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 28,568 – #40 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 990 – #3 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 230,389,964

[in-text-ad]

1982
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.5 – #15 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 28,500 – #41 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 985 – #5 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 228,001,418

1981
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.3 – #20 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 27,755 – #42 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 1007.1 – #2 highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 225,654,008

1980
> Rate per 100,000 people 12.2 – #24 highest (1980-2022)
> Count according to death certificates: 27,223 – #43 most (1980-2022)
> Death rate from all causes: 1039.1 – the highest (1980-2022)
> Resident population: 223,140,018

 

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.