There is no suicide epidemic
Suicide, like loneliness, is another factor of modern society that is often said to be on the increase, and even at ‘epidemic’ levels. Like loneliness, we have limited historical data, but in the three countries we do have data for, you can see clearly that there is no epidemic, although rates are clearly not decreasing as fast as we would like.
Suicide is not actually as useful a measure of a society’s mental state as it might seem. Happier western countries tend to have slightly higher suicide rates. And rates are highly affected by economic trends and the age make-up of the population. Males are more likely than females to commit suicide, and the most at-risk stage of life is early retirement, which likely explains some of the recent rise in the suicide rate of the US, as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement.
It is a complex and difficult issue, and is still the 15th most common cause of death worldwide, and thus certainly deserves our attention. But rates are roughly steady or declining - there is no epidemic.