Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Seattle region ranks 2nd of 33 in U.S. suicide attempts

by November 4th, 2012

The Seattle metro region is a hotspot for suicide attempts, according to a newly released federal report drawn from data in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The report, titled “Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior in 33 Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2008 to 2010,” was released just last week by a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It finds that among the 33 regions assessed, only Dallas ranked higher than Seattle in the rate of actual annual suicide attempts for those 18 and older.

In Seattle from 2008 through 2010, on an average annual basis, seven-tenths of one percent of the adult population attempted suicide. Seattle was tied with the Salt Lake City, Utah region, and both were exceeded only by Dallas, at eight-tenths of a percent. The national average was one-half of one percent. Differences between regions and the national average are statistically significant at one-twentieth of a percent, according to a footnote in the report. The Atlanta region ranked lowest in suicide attempts among the 33 at .1 percent per year, with metro Washington D.C. tied for second at .2 percent.

When it came to other average annual indicators, namely reported thoughts of suicide among adults 18 and older, and in reported suicide planning by adults, a number of regions ranked higher than Seattle.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) each year gathers data from 70,000 randomly selected individuals age 12 and older. It is published by HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Through scientific methods and statistical analysis the data are used to develop representative portraits of different regions and states on use of tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and various mental health indicators.

The NSDUH data used in the special report were drawn from Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) that were selected to best represent geographical distribution of survey respondents, and to reflect different key regions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administrative operations. The Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Everett, Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma and points in between.

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The report showed that in contrast to suicide attempt rates, the Seattle MSA ranked lower – 12th among 33 – in rate of adults reporting they gave serious thought to suicide in an average year. That was only one-tenth of a percent higher than the average for all 33 regions, at 3.9 percent. In rate of adults who reported making any plans to attempt suicide in an average year, Seattle ranked 16th of 33, at .7 percent versus the average of 1 percent.

Source: Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior in 33 Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2008 to 2010, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 10/30/12


  • Suicide: Risk and Protective Factors, U.S. Centers For Disease Control
  • Suicide Hotlines – National, and Washington State by county
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Washington State
  • Public Data Ferret’s Public Health archive

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    2 Responses to “Seattle region ranks 2nd of 33 in U.S. suicide attempts”

    1. […] “Seattle Region Ranks 2nd of 33 In U.S. Suicide Attempts […]

    2. Rick says:

      There are many factors that affect suicide attempts (as well as completion). Age, sex, weather, race, religion, city/rural/suburban, ethnic backgrounds can be found to have correlations. Even higher are stress factors, coping mechanisms, and the personal support structure. Seattle even has a term called the “Seattle Chill,” where people find it difficult to meet/make friends. A place where people do not have many friends or find themselves “rejected,” will create more personal stress. Loneliness is a factor with suicide attempts.

      Yes, longer nights will impact Seasonal Affective Disorder and that can be one factor, but the right support system (if present) will counteract that. The fact that so many people have moved to Seattle and don’t have a support system probably has a bigger impact. When they have a crisis, there is no one to fall back upon.

      By the way, despite all urban legends, and anecdotes, there is no correlation to moon cycles.