Description of System: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey of a representative sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population aged ≥12 years. NSDUH collects data on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; initiation of substance use; substance use disorders and treatment; health care; and mental health. This report summarizes data on responses to questions concerning suicidal thoughts and behaviors contained in the mental health section among sampled persons aged ≥18 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This report summarizes 2015–2019 NSDUH data collected from 254,767 respondents regarding national-, regional-, and state-level prevalence of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts by age group, sex, race and ethnicity, region, state, education, marital status, poverty level, and health insurance status.
Results: Prevalence estimates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors varied by sociodemographic factors, region, and state. During 2015–2019, an estimated 10.6 million (annual average) adults in the United States (4.3% of the adult population) reported having had suicidal thoughts during the preceding year. The prevalence of having had suicidal thoughts ranged from 4.0% in the Northeast and South to 4.8% in the West and from 3.3% in New Jersey to 6.9% in Utah. An estimated 3.1 million adults (1.3% of the adult population) had made a suicide plan in the past year. The prevalence of having made suicide plans ranged from 1.0% in the Northeast to 1.4% in the Midwest and West and from 0.8% in Connecticut and New Jersey to 2.4% in Alaska. An estimated 1.4 million adults (0.6% of the adult population) had made a suicide attempt in the past year. The prevalence of suicide attempts ranged from 0.5% in the Northeast to 0.6% in the Midwest, South, and West and from 0.3% in Connecticut to 0.9% in West Virginia. Past-year prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning, and suicide attempts was higher among females than among males, higher among adults aged 18–39 years than among those aged ≥40 years, higher among noncollege graduates than college graduates, and higher among adults who had never been married than among those who were married, separated, divorced, or widowed. Prevalence was also higher among those living in poverty than among those with a family income at or above the federal poverty threshold and higher among those covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program than among those with other types of health insurance or no health insurance coverage.
Interpretation: The findings in this report highlight differences in the adult prevalence of suicidal thoughts, plans to attempt suicide, and attempted suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey at the national, regional, and state levels during 2015–2019. Geographic differences in suicidal thoughts and behavior varied by sociodemographic characteristics and might be attributable to sociodemographic composition of the population, selective migration, or the local cultural milieu. These findings underscore the importance of ongoing surveillance to collect locally relevant data on which to base prevention and intervention strategies.
Public Health Action: Understanding the patterns of and risk factors for suicide is essential for designing, implementing, and evaluating public health programs for suicide prevention and policies that reduce morbidity and mortality related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. State health departments and federal agencies can use the results from this report to assess progress toward achieving national and state health objectives in suicide prevention. Strategies might include identifying and supporting persons at risk, promoting connectedness, and creating protective environments.