Suicide Information, Prevention and Resources
Suicide is a major public health problem that has profound impact upon those who are touched directly and indirectly. In the United States more than 30,000 people are reported to die by suicide each year. It is estimated that as many as twenty-five times that number of attempts are made, and many more consider it. Suicide occurs across all age groups, across genders, and in all cultural and ethnic groups. However, it does not occur at equal rates in each of these groups. Suicide results from a complex interplay of many factors. Of people who die by suicide, overwhelmingly, at the time of their death they also had a diagnosable mental health or substance abuse problem. Suicide is often preventable.
Helping Someone Who Is At Risk of Suicide
Suicide is often a response to significant loss – of a relationship, a job, financial security, one’s reputation, or freedom. If you are concerned, let the individual know what you have observed that leads to your concern, and ask if they are thinking of suicide. Asking the question does not create the idea, nor lead someone to take an action they were not planning. Next, remain with the person who is at risk and help them connect with resources that can help them – perhaps a member of the clergy or a mental health provider. Resources are available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800 273-TALK.
Of course, if someone is at imminent risk, call 911 for immediate assistance. For assistance locating local resources, explore our Information and Referral page.
Reasons for Concern
Thinking about suicide is usually the end result of a path that has had many contributions. Reasons to be concerned that a friend, colleague, neighbor, family member, or someone else with whom you are in contact may be at risk can include: statements about suicide or wish to die, suggestions that there is no future, self-harm actions, threats of self-harm, withdrawal from usual activities, changes in social contacts, changes in eating, sleeping, or use of drugs and alcohol, and increased irritability. This list is not exhaustive, and people at risk of suicide may show none, some, or all of these indications. Be guided by your observations and impression that something is ‘wrong’.
Children, Youth and Young Adults
Suicide remains the third most common cause of death for American youth between the ages of 15-19 and 15-24. On average, 11 youth die by suicide each day, and it is estimated that, daily, as many as 200 may survive an attempt. Although far more girls than boys attempt suicide, far more males complete suicide. Firearms remain the most common method of suicide among youth. Suicidal actions are often a response to interpersonal conflict or loss. All self-harming behaviors should be taken seriously.
Even younger children complete suicide – 119 children died by suicide in the United States in 2007. The frequency of children dying by suicide has increased substantially.
Adults and Seniors
Suicide is the 11th most common cause of death in the United States, across all age groups combined. The risk of suicide increases when an individual has a diagnosable or diagnosed mental illness, particularly depression or schizophrenia, or a substance use disorder. In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 34,598 known deaths by suicide or approximately 94 people each day. Overall, it is estimated that for each individual who dies by suicide, another 25 have made an attempt. Further, it is estimated that a network of six individuals – close friends and family members – are significantly affected by the death of each individual who dies by suicide. Although women make more suicide attempts, more men die by suicide.
Our oldest community members are at increased risk of suicide. In 2007, there were almost 15 suicides of older Americans each day. Suicidal actions in this group are more lethal than among their younger counterparts – for each suicide completed by an older American, it is estimated that there are 4 more attempts.
The statistics cited above are adapted from the web site of the American Association of Suicidology at www.suicidology.org. More detailed statistics including information about ethnicity and gender can be found on their site. Additional resources are listed below.
Additional Information About Suicide / Resources
American Association of Suicidology
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention
Centers for Disease Control
NYS Suicide Prevention Center
*2007 stats accessed at www.suicidology.org