For decades, suicide prevention campaigns have worked to help at-risk Americans from taking their own lives. Unfortunately, according a new study, those campaigns are not working as the number of suicide attempts continues to grow. And young adults are particularly at risk.
In 2012-13, scientists surveyed nearly 70,000 Americans and compared their answers to data from 2004-05. According to their results, the number of Americans who have attempted suicide rose from 0.62 percent in 2004-05 to 0.79 percent in 2012-13. That may not seem like a lot, but considering the amount of people in the study and the population of the country, that's quite significant. Over that same period of time, the suicide rate rose from 11 people per 100,000 to 13 people per 100,000, which is a lot in a country of 300 million people. The rate increased by an average of 2 percent every year.
According to the researchers, the increase in suicide attempts was most dramatic among those aged 21 to 34. In 2004-05, about 41.51 percent of suicide attempts were made by those 21 to 34. In 2012-13, that increased to 49.98 percent. People in that age range in 2012-13 were also more likely to exhibit a depressive disorder, an antisocial disorder or have a history of violent behavior than in 2004-05. The researchers also found other factors were linked to likelihood of suicide attempts, such as income insecurity and history of substance abuse.
While the study doesn't examine medications, that is an issue in this topic. Many antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs are known to have major side effects that can either worsen a person's existing issues or create new ones, which can often turn those people away from taking their drugs.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat issues like anxiety and depression, both of which are risk factors for suicide. But many states, even those with legal medicinal marijuana, only limit the drug to severe conditions such as cancer and AIDS patients. Embracing medical marijuana for a larger host of conditions will help many people receive treatment they normally wouldn't, or offer a far safer option than what they're currently given.