Suicide

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 | www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press "1" | www.veteranscrisisline.net

Suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time.

Risk Factors:

  • Depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.Prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Firearms in the home, the method used in more than half of suicides
  • Incarceration
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures
  • Financial collapse

Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, a history of suicide attempts, and in the brains of suicide victims.

Suicide by:Males (%)Females (%)
Firearms 56 30
Suffocation 24 21
Poisoning 13 40

Risk Factor for Non-fatal Suicide Attempts:

  • An estimated 11 nonfatal suicide attempts occur per every suicide death. Men and the elderly are more likely to have fatal attempts than are women and youth
  • Risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts by adults include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol and other substance abuse and separation or divorce
  • Risk factors for attempted suicide by youth include depression, alcohol or other drug-use disorder, physical or sexual abuse, and disruptive behavior
  • Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention
  • A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment.

Resources

For Children and Teens:

Survivor and Bereavement Resources: