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injury and violence prevention (ivp) branch

Suicide Prevention Program

​​Data on Suicides and Suicide Attempts

Data Reports Now Available:

Information on available data on the number of suicides, attempted suicides, or mental health concerns in California as it relates to COVID19

The Injury and Violence Prevention Branch (IVPB) at the California Department of Public Health monitors available data for suicides.  The specific relationship between suicide and COVID-19 is not yet clear due, in part, to the time it takes to confirm a death as suicide. 

While there is concern regarding the effect the COVID-19 pandemic may have on suicide rates in California, we do not yet have data that definitively shows an increase in suicide or suicide attempts during the pandemic. Based on preliminary data, California has not seen an increase in the number of suicides for the first 8 months of 2020 when compared to the same time period in 2019. This is also true when current numbers are compared to the average number of suicides between 2017 and 2019. Until final data become available, it is premature to state that suicide rates have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surveillance of suicide is done using vital statistics data.  The most up-to-date data tables for various causes of death, including suicide, can be found here: Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Vital Records Data and Statistics (scroll down to "Death Tables"; the second table listed is "Deaths by Leading Causes of Death by Month"). The table shows monthly counts of suicide death from 2017 through the most current month available. These tables are updated monthly. The data for 2020 are considered preliminary/provisional at this time, meaning they can be changed in the future as causes of death are confirmed.  Under typical circumstances, it may take several months for a death to be confirmed as suicide.  Entities that complete death certificates and determine the cause of death (e.g., coroners and medical examiners) may also be currently experiencing backlogs due to the impact of the pandemic.  There appear to be a larger number of deaths in recent months reported as undefined (i.e., "other"), in comparison to earlier pre-pandemic periods.  It is possible that a portion of these undefined "other" deaths will eventually be reclassified as suicides.  

Although IVPB does not directly monitor mental health across the state, data on adult/teen perceived need, access, and use of mental health services and overall mental health status can be found within the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). 

While we have not seen an increase in the number of suicides in California since the pandemic began, there have been reports nationally (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) of increases in anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. We know that suicidal thoughts are an opportunity for suicide prevention—for every person that dies by suicide, there are 280 more who have serious suicidal thoughts and don't kill themselves. Please let anyone you know who is struggling that help is available.

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