Suicide Facts

Suicide Completion

  • Over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year
  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Every 16 minutes someone in the United States dies of suicide
  • 90% of all people who die by suicide have a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of their death; major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide
  • Suicide rates in the United States are lowest in the winter and highest in the spring
  • Suicide rates in the western states are higher than the national average, while lower than the national average in the eastern and Midwestern states
  • Suicide rates among men are highest in White men, followed by American Indian and Native Alaskan men
  • Suicide rates are particularly low among African American females
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young persons aged 15 to 24 and suicide rates are higher among the elderly than any other age group
  • For every completed female suicide, there are four completed male suicides
  • Daily, around 80 Americans succeed at taking their own life
  • Firearms are the most common method of suicide
  • In addition to the trauma of losing a loved one, family members of persons who have died by suicide are at greater risk for suicide and emotional problems

Suicide Attempts

  • Suicide attempts occur much more frequently than actual suicides
  • It is estimated that close to 1,000,000 people make a suicide attempt each year
  • Suicide attempts are the biggest risk factor for suicide completions
  • Twice as many females as males attempt suicide
  • The leading risk factors for suicide attempts include depression, substance abuse, hopelessness, domestic violence, and a childhood history of trauma
  • Suicide attempts must be viewed as a cry for help

Suicide Interventions 

  • There are good interventions for people who feel suicidal
  • Suicide hotlines are available 24/7/365 to provide a listening ear, support, and advice
  • Individual, group, or couples/family counseling can assist people in dealing with the stresses associated with their suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Medication can be helpful if people feel suicidal because they are depressed or anxious or have other mental health problems
  • Family members who have lost a loved one to suicide can benefit from grief therapy and support and advocacy groups for survivors
  • SEEK ASSISTANCE IF YOU NEED HELP

Risk Factors for Suicide

  • History of mental illness, particularly depression
  • History of alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Physical illness
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Loss (loved one, relationships, social, work, or financial)
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Limited support from friends and family
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Limited effective strategies for coping
  • Cultural and religious beliefs; for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Domestic violence
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of a stigma attached to mental health
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment

Protective Factors for Suicide 

  • Family support
  • Community support from friends, coworkers, teachers, bosses, religious leaders, fellow congregants
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent handling of disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that value life
  • A willingness to seek help
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for helpseeking
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse problems
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide

These facts were taken from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at http://www.afsp.org. the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/suifacts.htm, and the American Association of Suicidology at www.suicidology.org