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Why Are Suicide Rates Increasing in the United States? Towards a Multilevel Reimagination of Suicide Prevention

Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN,volume 46)

Abstract

Suicide, a major public health concern, takes around 800,000 lives globally every year and is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. Despite substantial prevention efforts, between 1999 and 2017, suicide and nonfatal self-injury rates have experienced unprecedented increases across the United States – as well as in many other countries in the world. This chapter reviews the existing evidence on the causes behind increased suicide rates and critically evaluates the impact of a range of innovative approaches to suicide prevention. First, we briefly describe current trends in suicide and suicidal behaviors and relate them to recent time trends in relevant suicide risk markers. Then, we review the existing evidence in suicide prevention at the individual and the population levels, including new approaches that are currently under development. Finally, we advocate for a new generation of suicide research that examines causal factors beyond the proximal and clinical and fosters a socially conscious reimagining of suicidal prevention. To this end, we emphasize the need for the conceptualization of suicide and suicidal behaviors as complex phenomena with causes at several levels of organization. Future interdisciplinary research and interventions should be developed within a multilevel causal framework that can better capture the social, economic, and political settings where suicide, as a process, unfolds across the life course.

Keywords

  • Multilevel epidemiology
  • Prevention
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide

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Martinez-Ales, G., Hernandez-Calle, D., Khauli, N., Keyes, K.M. (2020). Why Are Suicide Rates Increasing in the United States? Towards a Multilevel Reimagination of Suicide Prevention. In: Baca-Garcia, E. (eds) Behavioral Neurobiology of Suicide and Self Harm. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, vol 46. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/7854_2020_158

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