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Suicide and homicide rates among young Americans increased sharply in last several years, CDC reports

Report finds alarming rise in suicides
Suicide rates among young people up 60% since 2011, report finds 07:16

Homicide and suicide rates among groups of young Americans have risen sharply in the last few years, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, shining a light on the state of mental health and violence in the U.S.

The study, which was published by the CDC on Thursday, gathered data over a 20-year period, from 2001 to 2021, on young Americans ages 10 to 24. 

The report found a general upward trend in suicide and homicide rates in this age group, which were the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, in 2021.

Experts believe the increases in both suicide and homicide rates are a result of several factors, including stress, social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, higher rates of depression, limited access to mental health services and increased access to guns.

About 54% of gun-related deaths in 2021 were suicides, while 43% of gun-related deaths in the same year were homicides, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

Here's what the study found regarding suicide rates:

In 2021, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10 to 24, the CDC said. The age group experienced a 62% increase in its suicide rate from 2007 to 2021. It rose from 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007, to 11 deaths per 100,000 in 2021. 

The most significant increase in suicide rates was seen in those ages 20 to 24. Young adults saw their largest annual jump in suicide from 2020 to 2021, from 17.8 to 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, and surpassing the homicide rate for that group.

For older teenagers, ages 15 to 19, the most significant jump in the suicide rate took place from 2009 to 2017, when it jumped 57%, from 7.5 to 11.8 deaths per 100,000. This rate remained stable through 2021.

In February, the CDC reported that suicide rates saw a significant increase among American Indian, Black and Hispanic people in 2021, while the rate of suicide among White people fell for a third straight year.

Here's what the study found regarding homicide rates:

Homicides were the third leading cause of death for Americans ages 10 to 24 in 2021, the CDC said. 

While homicides among this group decreased from 2006 to 2014, they increased by 60% from 2014 to 2021. The largest annual jump in the homicide rate occurred between 2019 and 2020.

Young adults, ages 20 to 24, saw a 34% increase in the homicide rate from 2019 to 2020, from 13.4 to 18 deaths per 100,000. 

Older teenagers, ages 15 to 19, saw a 91% increase in the homicide rate from 2014 to 2021, from 6.7 to 12.8 deaths per 100,000. It also surpassed the 2021 suicide rate for that same age group, which was 10.9 per 100,000.

For those aged 10 to 14, the homicide rate doubled from 2016 to 2020, from 0.7 to 1.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

Access to mental health services are vital

Mental health care should be a priority for young Americans. In many cases, emergency rooms and hospitals are not equipped to care for people going through mental distress. 

Fountain House, a national mental health nonprofit, has clubhouses across the nation which open its doors to anyone dealing with mental illness.

"We have a pandemic of loneliness, of isolation, and as a result of that, we're seeing a decaying of many of the ways in which all of us get support," Fountain House CEO Ken Zimmerman told CBS News Thursday. "There are solutions hiding in plain sight...Community is a therapeutic intervention."

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

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