Leo Sher, M.D.
Provisional information regarding the leading causes of death in the United States has been released by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (1,2). Provisional estimates indicate a 17.7% increase in the number of deaths in 2020 (the increase in the age-adjusted rate was 15.9%) compared with 2019, with increases in many leading causes of death. In 2020, about 3,358,814 people died in the United States (1,2). The three leading causes of death were heart disease (690,882 deaths), cancer (599,601 deaths) and COVID – 19 (345,323 deaths).
Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States in 2020 (1). According to preliminary data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics the number of suicides in the United States decreased last year. From 2019 to 2020, suicide deaths declined by 5.6%. There were 47,511 and 44,834 suicides in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It is the largest annual decline in at least four decades (3). Death certificates are still coming in and the amount could increase. However, officials anticipate that a significant decrease will continue.
- Ahmad FB, Anderson RN. The leading causes of death in the US for 2020. JAMA. Published online March 31, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.5469
- Ahmad FB, Cisewski JA, Miniño A, Anderson RN. Provisional mortality data —United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. Published March 31, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm?s_cid=mm7014e1_w
- Stobbe M. US suicides dropped last year, defying pandemic expectations. Associated Press, April 8, 2021. URL: https://apnews.com/article/pandemics-suicide-prevention-coronavirus-pandemic-d8d9168403baa6660e5125c040b2ae81