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

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 the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at, and the American Association of Suicidology at