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U.S. death rates for suicide and drug overdoses are increasing

Posted on 08-15-16 in Advocacy, Treatment

U.S. death rates for suicide and drug overdoses are increasing

In the Quarterly Provisional Estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the provisional estimates for 2015 have caused some concern. Compared to 2014, it appears that drug overdose death rates increased again in 2015, based on the provisional estimates reported by the CDC. The year prior, in 2014, the United States experienced the greatest number of overdose deaths due to prescription opioid medications and heroin compared to any other year on record along with a 2.8-fold increase in the total number of deaths due to prescription drugs since 2001.

The alarming rise in drug overdose deaths, particularly those due to opioid overdoses (i.e., prescription opioid medications and heroin) that occurred in 2014 triggered a national response. The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), along with many other organizations, made it a top priority to reduce the number of opioid drug overdoses, which consisted of about half of all overdose deaths in 2014. They also sought to increase the availability of prescriptions that reverse the effects of opioid drug overdoses and help to treat individuals with opioid use disorders. Despite the efforts of the government, policy and lawmakers, organizations and health care providers, it is evident that the need for addressing drug overdoses has remained problematic in the U.S.

Deaths by suicide

Another cause of avertable death is suicide. In addition to drug overdoses, intentional self-harm (i.e., suicide) was listed as one of the 10 leading causes of death in 2014. According to the 2016 Health, United States report by the National Center for Health Statistics, suicide is now the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. It also appears that the death rate due to suicide is higher in 2015 than it was in 2014, according to the provisional estimates reported by the CDC.

Suicide has been of great concern to the U.S. as the age-adjusted suicide rate has steadily increased since 1999; in fact, the suicide rate has increased by 24 percent, from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 13.0 per 100,000 people in 2014, according to an April 2016 report by the CDC. Despite there being treatment available to assist people experiencing suicidal thoughts and other symptoms of major depressive disorders (MDD), it is clear that people are lacking effective mental health treatment for these issues.

Deaths due to intentional and unintentional drug overdoses and suicide are extremely troubling as they are highly preventable causes of mortality in the U.S. The rising drug overdose and suicide rates recorded in the CDC report show how important it is to reach people with mental health and substance use disorders to prevent unnecessary deaths throughout the country. The rise in both the suicide and overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 highlights the vital need to address these types of mental health problems and expand the access and availability of effective treatment services to people who need help throughout the United States.

Finding help

Substance abuse is a serious problem and can often lead users to thoughts of suicide. Preventing these problems should be a priority, but it isn’t always easy to find proper care to help individuals combat these problems. Thankfully, we can help. As part of our comprehensive, individualized behavioral health treatment services offered at Sovereign Health, patients with borderline personality disorder and other mental health conditions can receive evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and DBT. For more information on the treatment programs offered at Sovereign Health, please contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team.

About the author

Amanda Habermann is a writer for Sovereign Health. A graduate of California Lutheran University, she received her M.S. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in psychiatric rehabilitation. She brings to the team her background in research, testing and assessment, and recovery techniques. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at