Suicide: Inexplicable, yes, but still frighteningly common [Letter]

September 27, 2014

Commentator René Muller asserts that suicide is "an uncommon phenomenon" ("Explaining the inexplicable: suicide," Sept. 23).

Yet The most recent suicide data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011, lists suicide as the 10th leading cause of death for Americans — a reported 39,518 people took their own lives that year.

I say reported because death by suicide is under-reported for a variety of reasons — social stigma, religious and insurance concerns, and the difficulty in determining cause of death.

Again from the CDC, reported suicides among all age groups 1999 to 2011 totaled 436,110, making suicide the 11th leading cause of death for Americans during those years.

The "all ages" is a bit of a misnomer because the starting age for reported suicides in this country during those years was 9. In 2011, three 9-year-olds committed suicide, and from 1999 to 2011, 38 9-year-olds killed themselves.

Apparently, this is the age when the unthinkable becomes a horrible reality. And by the way, suicide is listed as the third leading cause of death for the 10- to 24-year-old age group between 1999 and 2011, when more that 58,000 young Americans reportedly killed themselves.

For me, these numbers don't fit the definition of "uncommon."

Jim Giza, Baltimore

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