Suicide: Warning Signs, Fast Facts, and Risk Factors
The most important fact to know: Suicide is preventable.
Every 16.2 minutes, one person dies of suicide — which means that every year we have the chance to save approximately 30,000 lives. In order to save these lives, it’s crucial that we understand the combination of factors that can lead to suicide.
In order to prevent suicide, we first have to learn how to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.
Suicide Warning Signs
Nearly all people who die by suicide show warning signs. If you think someone might be at risk, ask them if they’re thinking about suicide. Even if they aren’t, you’re opening up the conversation and letting them know that you’re available to talk about these things.
Suicidal Behavior: What They Say
A person with suicidal thoughts may talk about":
Having no reason to live
Being a burden to others
Unbearable pain (physical or emotional)
Suicidal Behavior: What They Do
A person actively contemplating suicide might engage in impulsive behavior. This might mean that they:
Start using more alcohol and drugs
Look for ways to end their lives, including online searches for possible methods
Withdraw from activities
Isolate from family, friends, and loved ones
Sleep too much or too little
“Say their goodbyes” to others
Give away valued possessions
Suicidal Behavior: How They Feel
A person with suicidal impulses might struggle with many overwhelming emotions. These include feeling:
Uninterested in activities they once enjoyed
Crisis Text Line can is committed to reducing suicide. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, text a Crisis Counselor at 741741, or use the mobile text button below. We’re here to support you.
Suicide Risk Factors
Risk factors for suicide are internal or external conditions that increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Consider each factor if you suspect someone you know is at risk.
Health Risk Factors for Suicide
Some of the health factors that can leave a person at a higher suicide risk include mental and physical health conditions such as:
Substance abuse problems
Chronic pain or other serious health condition
Traumatic brain injury
Environmental Risk Factors for Suicide
Several circumstances in a person’s world can increase their likelihood of a suicide attempt. These include:
Access to lethal means
Stressful life events or major life changes
Exposure to suicide, including loss of a loved one or graphic portrayal in media
Historical Rick Factors for Suicide
Personal connections to suicide or trauma can greatly increase somoene’s risk of suicide. Three key risk factors experts and mental health professionals look for are:
Previous suicide attempts
Family history of suicide
Childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the US
For those between the ages of 10 and 25, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death
There were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510)
Men are four times more likely to complete suicide than women
American Indian and Alaskan Natives are at the highest risk of suicide, with 1.1% of those identifying as such dying by suicide
Suicide and LGBTQ+ Youth
92% of those identifying as transgender who have attempted suicide did so before the age of 25
LGBTQ+ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers
LGBT youth who come from rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide as those who come from accepting families
How You Can Prevent Suicide
If you’re concerned that someone may be dealing with suicidal thoughts take your concerns seriously. Here are some tips for starting a conversation about suicide from our friends at Seize the Awkward:
Listen. The most important thing you can do is let the person know that you’re here to listen. They may feel uncomfortable with their thoughts; listening without judgment lets them know that it’s okay to feel the way they’re feeling
Ask how you can help. Give the power back to the person that’s struggling. Ask how you can be helpful, whether it’s sitting with them when they’re lonely or helping them choose a doctor.
Avoid giving advice. Trying to rush through fixing the situation can make it seem like you’re not available to listen.
Keep it casual. This is a friend that you care about, not a formal interview. Have the conversation just like you would any other talk.
Let them open up at their pace. If they’re not ready to talk, let them know that you’re here to listen whenever they’re ready.
Encourage them to reach out for help. Whether it’s from a doctor or by texting a Crisis Counselor at 741741, sometimes external support can make all the difference.
If you believe the person is at critical and immediate risk, call 911
We all can work to reduce suicide.