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Suicidal thoughts, behaviors higher among young adults and unemployed

Considering patients' age, gender and where they live could help physicians identify people who have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study in the Oct. 21 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that suicidal thoughts are more common among females than males. Such thoughts also are more frequently reported by adults in the Midwest and West than by people in other regions of the country. The study is the first to present state-level data concerning suicidal thoughts and behaviors among U.S. adults, the CDC said. "Doctors might be able to think about the demographic composition of the population they see and determine if there are some higher-risk groups in their practice," said lead study author Alex E. Crosby, MD, MPH. "If doctors have more females and young adults, they might want to think about what kind of questions they can ask to probe a little more deeply into issues related to suicidal behavior," said Dr. Crosby, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. In 2008, there were 36,035 deaths due to suicide in the U.S. and 666,000 hospital emergency department visits for nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries, according to the CDC's most recent data. Researchers for the MMWR study examined data on more than 92,000 adults 18 and older who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2008 and 2009. Respondents were asked whether they thought seriously about trying to kill themselves in the past year. Those who reported having such thoughts were asked whether they made plans during the year to commit suicide and whether they tried to carry out those plans. Researchers found about 8.3 million people (3.7% of the adult population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year. Of those, an estimated 2.2 million made a suicide plan, and 1 million attempted suicide. Data show that suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts are more common in people age 18 to 29 than in older adults. Such thoughts and behaviors also are more frequently reported by the unemployed and those without a high school degree than by college graduates and those with a job. The prevalence of suicidal thoughts ranged from 2.1% in Georgia to 6.8% in Utah. Suicide attempts were lowest in Delaware and Georgia (.1%) and highest in Rhode Island (1.5%). "This report highlights that we have opportunities to intervene before someone dies by suicide," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. "We can identify risks and take action before a suicide attempt takes place." The full and original article can be found at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/11/07/hlsb1108.htm
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