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A total of 49,449 Americans died by suicide in 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

This is a 2.6% increase from 48,183 in 2021 and the highest number ever recorded, according to provisional numbers released in a new report from the federal health agency.

The greatest increase was seen among adults aged 65 and older, which was up 8.1% from 2021, and the second highest increase was in those aged 45 to 64, with a 6.6% rise.

There also was an increase among those aged 25 to 44, but of just 0.7%

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Researchers also found overall increases in both genders, up 2.3% among men and 2.8% among women, and among most racial and ethnic groups, except American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders saw the largest increase among racial and ethnic groups with 15.9% in 2022.

Americans identifying as multiracial saw the second-largest increase at 21.%

However, one bright spot was that among children, teenagers and young adults – between ages 18 and 34, suicides decreased by 8.4%, according to the report.

The CDC said suicides have been increasing almost every year since 2006 — with exceptions in 2019 and 2020 — and that immediate action will need to be taken to address this crisis.

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“The troubling increase in suicides requires immediate action across our society to address the staggering loss of life from tragedies that are preventable,” Dr. Debra Houry, the CDC’s chief medical officer, said in a press release.

“Everyone can play a role in efforts to save lives and reverse the rise in suicide deaths,” said Dr. Houry.

The agency urged those seeking help to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis lifeline and to help safeguard those who may be at risk of suicide. This includes asking people if they need help, being there for them, helping them connect with resources and following up.

“Nine in 10 Americans believe America is facing a mental health crisis,” Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

“The new suicide death data reported by CDC illustrates why. One life lost to suicide is one too many. Yet, too many people still believe asking for help is a sign of weakness.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is making unprecedented investments to transform how mental health is understood, accessed and treated as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda,” Becerra said. “We must continue to eliminate the stigmatization of mental health and make care available to all Americans.”

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The CDC also placed emphasis on its Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program, which focuses on suicide prevention, especially among populations that are disproportionately affected by suicide.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, young Black American men commit suicide at more than three times the rate of Black American women. The suicide rate for Black children ages 10 to 19 has risen 60% just over the past two decades, outpacing any other racial or ethnic group.

“We’re going to have to do something about it because with the numbers I’ve been seeing, it’s not looking good,” said Natasha A. Pierre, a mental health educator. 

Despite the rising suicide rates, many Black Americans are not using available mental health services, which Pierre attributes to a lack of insurance. 

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“If you don’t have the cash available, then that excludes you.”

“If you’ve got the cash, great; but if you don’t have the cash available, then that excludes you from services that could really impact, benefit and affect your mental health positively,” explained Pierre.

Living Hope Productions is trying to be a part of the solution by providing a safe haven for Black men to talk about mental health.

They’re doing this through a free national tour called Just Heal, Bro.

Actor Lamman Rucker, known for his roles in All My Children, Greenleaf, and several Tyler Perry productions, is one of the panelists on this mental health tour. 

“Now, this is also a place of positivity. This isn’t just about unloading all the negative, you know, junk onto each other, but it’s also about not being afraid to do that. Or even, in spite of the fear, here’s an opportunity even just to come and listen. Everybody there doesn’t talk. You know, sometimes everybody don’t want to say anything,” said Rucker.

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According to ABC Action News, the event started in March of 2022 and has traveled to 19 cities. Organizers say they’re trying to come to Tampa but need sponsors to make it happen.

“With Just Heal, Bro it allows men to see ‘hey, man. It ain’t as bad as I thought it was,’ or, ‘Man, I have an avenue to now to get with a group of men’ because, through the fellowship, we’re exchanging numbers. We’re exchanging social media,” said Terrence Jackson, who attended one of the events.

Photo Courtesy: Sad Girls Club

Founded in February 2017 by Elyse Fox, Sad Girls Club was launched after a documentary was made about her life with depression.

Elyse immediately experienced a wave of young women from all over the world who were seeking mentorship, tips and resources to guide them through their own mental health struggles. Sad Girls Club is both an online platform and in real life community committed to bring girls together who are battling mental illnesses.

With a mission to make talk therapy accessible to all, Sad Girls Club launched Chat Room, a version of group counseling and a safe space to share, vent and heal.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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