Report: Suicides Surpass Homicides in NYC

A man killed himself by jumping in front of a moving subway train. An off-duty cop used her service weapon to shoot herself in the head. A 36-year-old hurled himself from a hotel window, falling to his death. On Thursday morning, a man intentionally leaped in front of an uptown 1 train at West 72nd street and died.

These suicides all occurred within the last month in New York City.

The number of New Yorkers who choose to kill themselves is increasing, according to a new study released Wednesday from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It shows suicide rates are rising in the city — with some 565 people dying by suicide in 2014, up from 448 in 2000. That’s more than the 353 homicides and 270 deaths in motor vehicle accidents per 100,000 New Yorkers within the same year, according to the most recent statistics.

"This concerning increase in the suicide rate in New York City tells us that we’re not reaching New Yorkers early enough when they need support," Dr. Mary T. Bassett, NYC Health Commissioner, said in a statement. 

One in five New Yorkers experience mental health disorders each year. The city’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, says this fact corresponds to the increase in overall suicide rates, and is why more resources must be put toward Thrive NYC, the city initiative committed to raising awareness about mental health issues.

"The data released today on suicide in New York City makes clear that a person's untreated mental illness can result in premature and tragic death," she said.

Though rates of suicide for both men and women have increased nationwide, the data reveals the highest rate of suicide in New York is among white males, up from 11.7 per 100,000 New Yorkers in 2000 to 13.4 per 100,000 New Yorkers in 2014.

The number of women dying by their own hand has steadily gone up — a 56 percent increase since 2000 —with specifically steep rise in the suicide rate for middle-aged women between the ages of 45 and 64.

The surge of suicides in New York mirrors the national trend, according to the report, with the rate of reported suicides in the city remaining about the half of the national rate.

The study further revealed the connection between suicide and poverty. From 2012 to 2014, neighborhoods where 10 to 20 percent of residents lived below poverty had a higher rate of suicide than neighborhoods where less than 10 percent of residents had an income below the federal poverty level, with an increase in suicide rates highest in Manhattan and Queens.

"By tackling stigma, we are helping those in need feel more comfortable seeking support and preventing a tragedy that devastates so many families," says McCray. "By making mental health resources available where people live, work, study, and worship, we can save lives."

Read more about the warning signs of suicide and prevention tips here. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or seek help from a medical professional.

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