Suicide rates in the United States reached a record high last year, with nearly 50,000 people ending their lives in 2022 alone, according to provisional data released by the U.S. Centre for Disease and Prevention (CDC). According to the provisional data released, 49,449 people died via suicide in 2022, increasing by more than 1,000 deaths (2.6%) since 2021. Accounting for differences between the sexes, men (39,255) were more likely than women (10,194) to die by suicide in 2022, with the rates for both increasing by 4% since the previous year. “The suicide rate among males in 2021 was approximately four times higher than the rate among females,” the CDC reported. “Males make up 50% of the population but nearly 80% of suicides.” The CDC based its provisional data on death certificate data. However, the public health agency noted that the provisional data is an estimate, as the CDC’s National Centre for Health Statistics has not yet fully reviewed the certificate data.
Daniel Huerta, vice president of the parenting and youth initiative at the Evangelical parachurch organization Focus on the Family, believes that one factor contributing to rising suicide rates is access and exposure to things that work against the “core thirst of humanity.” “People are finding themselves empty and thirsty with nowhere to go to satisfy their deep thirsts,” Huerta told The Christian Post in a statement. “And kids are missing out on learning how to lose, fail, and persevere through weaknesses because they are told that life is about pursuing happiness and self-fulfillment — only to find dissatisfaction and emptiness.” He cited the words of Jesus, according to John 7:37, in which the Lord instructs all who are thirsty to come to Him and drink. According to Huerta, society continues to remove God from the picture when only He can satisfy humanity’s “core needs.”
Huerta also held up Genesis 1, 2 and 3 as examples of what happens when people lose trust in God, which Huerta believes is the “core” problem society faces today. “Who can people really trust right now?” he asked. “The news skews perception. Social media distorts reality and is on an all-out blitz for your attention and time. It can show a person everything they’re not doing at that moment or that they don’t do well enough.” “There is an overall mentality of needing to be entertained rather than pursuing an identity centred on serving as contributors within a larger mission and purpose,” he continued. “The understanding of love with trust at its core and serving as its expression have gotten lost.” Huerta suggested that the problem of suicide requires counsellors who can explore five core areas — spiritual, mental, emotional, relational and physical — to better understand the deeper issues that may be present.
“People need to feel significant and seen rather than being on an endless pursuit of people’s love and acceptance that they ultimately have a hard time trusting,” he stated. Among racial groups, white people accounted for the most deaths by suicide in 2022 (37,459), followed by Hispanics or Latinos (5,120) and Blacks/African Americans (3,825). American Indians or Alaskan natives accounted for 650 deaths, while native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders saw the lowest number of suicides, with 95 people from this category dying from suicide last year. Individuals between the ages of 25 and 44 had the highest number of suicides in 2022, at 16,843, followed by people between 45 and 65 (15,632). Nearly 11,000 elderly people 65 and older died via suicide in 2022, while 6,529 individuals ages 10 to 24 years died from suicide.
Firearms were involved in more than half of all suicides in 2022, according to the CDC’s provisional data. Suffocation was the second-most common method at 26%, followed by poisoning at 12%, while other methods made up 8% of deaths. The provisional data appears to align with previous reports that have noted an increase in suicide rates among certain groups. As reported last April, a CDC survey that analyzed the impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns on children and adolescents found that more than four in 10 teenagers felt “sad or hopeless,” and one in five contemplated taking their own lives. According to the survey, more than 44% of students in the ninth through 12th grades experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, with 19.9% of youths seriously considering attempting suicide during the pandemic.
Another 9% attempted suicide during the pandemic-related lockdowns, and more than 37% of students experienced poor mental health overall. Students who could not remain in contact with friends during COVID-19 (45%) suffered more negative effects on their mental health than those who remained in touch with close friends (28.4%). Over 50% of students who no longer felt close to their friends reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, compared to 35.4% of those who stayed in contact with friends even during the school closures. “The same pattern was observed among students who were virtually connected to others during the pandemic (i.e., with family, friends, or other groups by using a computer, telephone, or other device) versus those who were not,” the study stated.
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