The Facts on Suicide

Suicide, or ending one's own life, is a tragic event with strong emotional repercussions for survivors and for families of its victims. More than 45,000 people in the U.S. killed themselves in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicides also appear to be increasing across the country. The rate of suicide rose in 44 states between 1999 and 2016, with half of states reporting an increase of greater than 30 percent. Although many suicide prevention programs focus on helping teenagers, the highest number of suicides in the U.S. in 2015 occurred among people ages 45 to 54. Men are especially at risk, with a suicide rate approximately four times higher than that of women. There are also major disparities amongst ethnic and racial groups, with American Indian and Alaskan Natives being at highest risk.

For immediate help, 24/7: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, or Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

To find therapists near you, see the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

Why Do People Attempt Suicide?

Suicide often stems from a deep feeling of hopelessness. The inability to to see solutions to problems or to cope with challenging life circumstances may lead people to see suicide as the only option to what is really a temporary situation. Depression is a key risk factor for suicide; others include psychiatric disorders, substance use, chronic pain, a family history of suicide, and a prior suicide attempt. Impulsiveness often plays a role among adolescents who take their life. There are many myths about suicide, and one is the mistaken belief that talking about it to a person in danger encourages it. If a loved one expresses thoughts or plans of suicide, it’s essential to initiate a conversation. It is wise to approach such a discussion by researching depression and suicide ahead of time, identifying concrete resources such as a therapist or suicide prevention hotline, fully exploring the person's thoughts and emotions, and following up with the person over time.

Recent Posts