An overall increase in suicide attempts among adults in the United States appears to have disproportionately affected younger adults with less formal education and those with common personality, mood and anxiety disorders, according to an article published by JAMA Psychiatry.
Suicide attempts are the best known risk factor for suicide. Preventing suicide is a leading public health and research priority.
Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University, New York, and coauthors analyzed data from two nationally representative surveys that asked 69,341 adults in the United States questions about the occurrence and timing of suicide attempts.
The percentage of adults making a recent suicide attempt increased from 0.62 percent in 2004 through 2005 (221 of 34,629 adults) to 0.79 percent in 2012 through 2013 (305 of 34,712 adults). In both surveys, most of the adults with recent suicide attempts were female and younger than 50.
Risk differences adjusted for age, sex and race/ethnicity for suicide attempts was larger among adults 21 to 34 than among adults 65 and older; larger among adults with no more than a high school education than among college graduates; and larger among adults with antisocial personality disorder, a history of violent behavior, or a history of anxiety or depressive disorders than among adults without these conditions, according to the results.
The study notes several limitations, including a lack of data from adults who died of suicide, which may have led to an underestimation of suicide attempts.
"The pattern of suicide attempts supports a clinical and public health focus on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults, especially those with a history of suicide attempts and common personality, mood and anxiety disorders," the article concludes.
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