Suicide is a major public health concern. Over 41,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States. More than twice as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide . Suicide is tragic. But it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate.
Who is at risk for suicide?
Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:
- Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
- A prior suicide attempt
- Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
- Having guns or other firearms in the home
- Incarceration, being in prison or jail
- Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.
The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. Research suggests that people who attempt suicide differ from others in many aspects of how they think, react to events, and make decisions. There are differences in aspects of memory, attention, planning, and emotion, for example. These differences often occur along with disorders like depression, substance use, anxiety, and psychosis. Sometimes suicidal behavior is triggered by events such as personal loss or violence.
In order to be able to detect those at risk and prevent suicide, it is crucial that we understand the role of both long-term factors—such as experiences in childhood—and more immediate factors like mental health and recent life events. Researchers are also looking at how genes can either increase risk or make someone more resilient to loss and hardships.
Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. Suicide is not a normal response to stress. It is however, a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention.
Source: NIMH Suicide Prevention
Jane Pearson on Warning Signs for Childhood Suicide
It’s a question asked by parents, educators and health professionals. How do we prevent suicide among our children? In this special podcast series devoted to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health talks about important warning signs that come from children. She also looks at how well-intended reaction to tragedy can have unintended consequences. Dr. Pearson is with the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH and a leading expert on suicide research.
Talking to Kids about Suicide
Joanne Harpel, Margo Requarth, and Nancy Rappaport. (c) AFSP Survivor Initiatives Department, 2014.
Things to consider around suicide
Ten Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide
PowerPoint on Suicide– Take time to go through this is a great resource.
Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators– NASP
If you are in crisis
Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Veterans Crisis Line
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- National Council on Behavioral Health Webinar Series on Suicide Prevention
- National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
- NIMH Multimedia on Suicide Prevention
- NIMH Statistics on Suicide
- National Library of Medicine – Suicide
- Take 5 To Save Lives