Resources & Education

June 3rd, 2016

The Facts About Suicide

Hand writing prevent suicideToo many people take their own lives every day. While the truth is difficult to face, understanding the realities of suicide, including its risk factors, its victims, and its potential warning signs, can teach us how to do more to help those who may be at risk before it is too late. Consider these facts about suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health:

The Facts

  • Each year 42,773 Americans commit suicide, accounting for 117 suicides per day
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 34
  • For every suicide, there are 25 attempts
  • Suicide rates are highest among the middle aged
  • Men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women, while white males accounted for 7 out of 10 suicides in 2014
  • White males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide, while females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males
  • Based on 2014 data, approximately 50 percent of all suicides involved firearms, 27 percent involved suffocation (including hangings), and 16 percent involve poison
  • Due to stigmas surrounding suicide, many suicide attempts go unreported or untreated, and survey data indicates that at least one million Americans intentionally inflect self-harm each year
  • The ratio of suicide attempts to suicide deaths is estimated to be about 25:1 for youths, and 4:1 for the elderly

Those at Risk

Suicide can be a risk for anyone of any age, gender, and ethnicity, but those most at risk tend to share the following characteristics:

  • They are suffering from depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • They have made a prior suicide attempt
  • They have a family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • They have a family history of suicide
  • Their family has tendencies toward violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • They possess guns or other firearms in the home
  • They have a history of having been incarcerated
  • They have been exposed to others’ suicidal behavior

Warning Signs and Prevention

Suicide is not a normal response to stress. Rather it is a sign of extreme distress. Understanding both someone’s history and present state, such as lifestyle and health issues, can help identify if someone may be at risk for suicide. If you suspect that a loved one may be at risk, speak with a mental health professional. He/she can evaluate the person’s risk factors and create an intervention plan and mental health program that can be effective in treating the root cause of their emotional distress. Such programs may include mental health treatment, such as psychotherapy, or substance abuse recovery therapy. For some, prescription medications may also help to reduce suicidal thoughts.

For more information on suicide prevention, visit the suicide prevention part of our website.  

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