TUESDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A surge in hanging deaths among middle-aged adults appears to be responsible for the notable increase in U.S. suicides between 2000 and 2010, a new study finds.
Hangings accounted for 26 percent of suicides in 2010, up from 19 percent at the start of the decade. Among those aged 45 to 59, suicide by hanging increased 104 percent in that time period, according to the report documenting changing suicide patterns.
Overall, 16 percent more Americans took their own lives in 2010 than in 2000. That's equivalent to 12.1 suicides per 100,000 people compared to 10.4 per 100,000 previously.
"It is important that the huge increase in suicide by hanging be recognized," said lead researcher Susan Baker, founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Greater public awareness and education about death by hanging are needed to help stem the suicide rate overall and this particular method, she and other experts said.
"People may think that death by hanging is immediate and painless, but people struggle . . . I am sure it is not painless by any means," Baker said.
For the study, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Baker's team used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Guns are still the number one method of suicide. Guns, poisoning and hanging account for 93 percent of all suicides in the United States, Baker's group found. Although suicide by firearms dropped almost one-quarter among 15- to 24-year-olds, it rose by almost the same amount among those aged 45 to 59.
Suicide by poisoning increased to 17 percent of all suicides, up from 16 percent in 2000. Self-inflicted death by poisoning increased most (85 percent) among people aged 60 to 69 years, t
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