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2 million adults made suicide plans, survey says

September 17, 2009 |  6:00 am

Suicide2 About 32,000 U.S. adults kill themselves each year. But millions more think about suicide or even make plans to kill themselves, according to a new national survey. The 2008 survey found that an estimated 8.3 million people ages 18 and older -- 3.7% of the adult population -- had serious thoughts of suicide in the previous year.

Of those who pondered suicide, an estimated 2.3 million -- 1% of the adult population -- made a suicide plan, and about half of those actually attempted suicide, the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

Suicidal thoughts occur most often in people ages 18 to 25, according to the study. And substance abuse disorders were associated with an increased risk to consider, plan or attempt suicide; 11% of people who had substance abuse disorders had serious thoughts of suicide, compared with 3% of those with no history of substance use disorders.

The survey was conducted of 46,190 American adults.

"This study offers a far greater understanding of just how pervasive the risk of suicide is in our nation and how many of us are potentially affected by it," Eric Broderick, the agency's acting administrator, said in a news release. "While there are places that people in crisis can turn to for help like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), the magnitude of the public health crisis revealed by this study should motivate us as a nation to do everything possible to reach out and help the millions who are at risk -- preferably well before they are in immediate danger."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline coordinates a network of 140 crisis centers around the country to provide help at any time of the day or night. The full report is available on the administration's website.

-- Shari Roan

Chart credit: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration