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. It is tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate.
People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors 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
If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools, including medications.
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.
A publication from the National Institute of Mental HealthDownload