Health Department Releases Data on Female Suicide from 2006 to 2015

Female suicide rates in New York City are rising but still lower than the national average; in New York City, the rate of female suicide is highest among White females and Manhattan residents

New Yorkers experiencing suicidal thoughts can contact NYC Well for free and confidential support at any hour of the day in over 200 languages

May 11, 2018 — The Health Department today released new data on female suicide in New York City. From 2006 to 2015, the rate of female suicide increased on average by 4 percent annually in New York City, but it remained lower than the national rate. In 2015, 552 suicides were reported in New York City, and approximately one-third of them were among females. White females had the highest suicide rate among all female New Yorkers, with an average annual increase of 8 percent between 2008 and 2015. Within the five boroughs, the rate of female suicide in 2011-2015 was highest among Manhattan residents. However, the three neighborhoods with the largest numbers were the Upper East Side (51), Flushing-Clearview (35) and Western Queens (34). In 2015, female residents of medium-poverty neighborhoods had the highest rate of suicide, while residents of very high-poverty neighborhoods had the lowest rate.

The City has made an unprecedented commitment to mental health under ThriveNYC, a set of 54 initiatives to change the conversation and stigma surrounding mental illness and provide greater access to mental health care. New Yorkers experiencing suicidal thoughts can contact NYC Well for free and confidential support by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Help is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages. In addition, anyone can take a free Mental Health First Aid course to learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health challenges, including suicidal thoughts. In an emergency, always dial 911. The full report (PDF) on female suicide is available online.

“We’ve lost far too many lives to suicide. It’s more important than ever to make sure every single person in New York City knows that there is always hope and there is always help at NYC Well,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “If you or someone you care about is thinking about suicide, there are trained counselors ready to help, 24 hours a day. If you are hurting, please call, or call for a friend in need and help save a life.”

“If you are thinking about suicide, you are not alone, and you deserve immediate support,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Help is always available. Any New Yorker can access free short-term counseling and help getting an appointment for long-term support through NYC Well at any hour of the day.”

“As the rate of suicide amongst women increases, it is critical we continue to expand our mental health resources to ensure New Yorkers are getting the help they need. As the Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I strongly encourage contacting NYC Well if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

Additional data highlights:

  • In 2015, female suicide rates in New York City were highest among women ages 45 to 64, consistent with national data. However, the greatest increase in suicide was among women ages 18 to 24, with an average increase of 9 percent annually between 2006 and 2015.
  • Among women ages 18 and older, 48 percent who died by suicide in 2015 were single (compared with 39 percent in New York City overall) and 27 percent were married or in a domestic relationship (compared with 38 percent overall).
  • Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of females who died by suicide in 2015 had prior history of suicide attempts.
  • Data suggest an increasing trend in suicide rates among Black females and Latinas in New York City between 2006 and 2015, but White females continue to commit suicide at much higher rates than Black females and Latinas.
  • While the rate of suicide among females in New York City increased from 2006 to 2015, the rate among males in New York City increased from 2006 to 2013 (9.0 to 9.8 per 100,000) but decreased thereafter (8.6 per 100,000 in 2015). In 2015, the rate of suicide was more than twice as high among men than among women (8.6 versus 3.9 per 100,000).

Suicide Warning Signs

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

The City has free mental health resources available to all New Yorkers:

  • Contact NYC Well if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.
  • Complete a Mental Health First Aid course to learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health challenges, including suicidal behavior, anxiety, depression, psychosis, overdose and withdrawal. Mental Health First Aid is a free, one-day training offered six days a week in all five boroughs. Courses are offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Haitian Creole, and French. New Yorkers interested in taking the class can sign up at nyc.gov/mhfa.

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