Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems. Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions, but others are either unaware of the significance of these warnings or do not know how to respond to them. Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, racial and ethnic boundaries.
Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- Over 38,000 Americans die by suicide every year.
- In the U.S., suicide rates are highest during the spring.
- On average, 1 person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes.
- Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 other people.
- There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempted suicides.
- 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 dies by suicide each year.
- There are 2 times as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
- Over 50% of all suicides are completed with a firearm.
- Hanging is the leading method of suicide worldwide.
- Males make up 79% of all suicides, while women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds.
- About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide.
Suicidal behaviour is complex and not a response to one problem that a person is experiencing. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time. Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, but they may also themselves be at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.
General Statistics (USA)
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
- Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
- There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)
- Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
- Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)
- The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians, and Alaska Natives.
- Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
- 80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS study)
- An estimated quarter-million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
- There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
- There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)
- Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide among males (51%). (CDC)
- Females are more likely than males to have had suicidal thoughts. (CDC)
- Females experience depression at roughly 2x’s the rate of men. (SMH)
- Females attempt suicide 3x’s as often as males. (CDC)
- Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females. (CDC)
- Suicide among males is 4x’s higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79% of all US suicides. (CDC)
- 1 in 100,000 children ages 10 to 14 dies by suicide each year. (NIMH)
- 7 in 100,000 youth ages 15 to 19 die by suicide each year. (NIMH)
- 12.7 in 100,000 young adults ages 20-24 die by suicide each year. (NIMH)
- The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning, and suicide attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults aged 30+. (CDC)
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)
- Suicide is the 4thleading cause of death for adults ages 18-65. (CDC)
- The highest increase in suicide is in males 50+ (30 per 100,000). (CDC)
- Suicide rates for females are highest among those aged 45-54 (9 per 100,000). (CDC)
- Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75+ (36 per 100,000). (CDC)
- Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed. (SMH)
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual kids are 3x more likely than straight kids to attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
- Medically serious attempts at suicide are 4x more likely among LGBTQ youth than other young people.
- African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual attempt suicide at especially high rates.
- 41% of trans adults said they had attempted suicide, in one study. The same study found that 61% of trans people who were victims of physical assault had attempted suicide.
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them are over 8x more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.
- Each time an LGBTQ person is a victim of physical or verbal harassment or abuse, they become 2.5x more likely to hurt themselves.
Myths and Facts About Suicide
- Suicide is hereditary
- Suicide is a behaviour, not a condition
- Suicide is caused by depression
- There are no warning signs to suicide
- Only those acting moody and sad are suicidal
- Suicides happen on impulse alone
- Asking someone about suicide encourages them to become suicidal
- Suicide only affects those from lower social-economic backgrounds
- People who talk about suicide or who have attempted before won’t go through with it
- Suicidal individuals are often ambivalent and fluctuate between wanting to live and wanting to die
Signs of possible suicidal tendencies
- Change in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities.
- Depression: Broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness such as clinical depression but depression indicated by signs such as sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and loss of interest in usual activities.
- Loss of energy
- Changes in appetite, weight, behaviour, activity levels or sleep patterns.
- talking, writing or hinting about suicide
- Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies.
- Previous Attempts
- Violent actions, rebellious behaviour or running away
- Drug and alcohol abuse or use.
- Unusual neglect of personal appearance.
- Marked personality changes.
- Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or decline in the quality of schoolwork.
- Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- Loss of interest in pleasurable events.
- Not tolerating praise or rewards.
- Complaints of being “rotten inside”.
- Giving verbal hints with statements such as “I won’t be a problem for you much longer”, “nothing matters”, “It’s no use”, “I won’t see you again”.
- Put his or her affairs in order– for example, giving away favourite possessions, cleaning his/her room, throwing away important belongings…etc
- Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
- “Clearing the air” over personal incidents in the past.
- Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance.
Why do people attempt suicide?
People usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain, which is caused by a wide variety of problems. It is often a cry for help. A person attempting suicide is often so depressed that they are unable to see that they have other options: We can help prevent a tragedy by endeavouring to understand how they feel and helping them to look for better choices that they could make. Suicidal people often feel isolated, because they distrust, they may not think of anyone they can turn to …… which furthers the isolation.
Significant changes in:
- Well being of self or family members
- Body image
- Job, school, university, home, locality
- Financial situation
- World environment
However, suicide and suicidal behaviour are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors but are not suicidal. Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, and a history of suicide attempts, and the brains of suicide victims.
Challenges and obstacles
Stigma and taboo
Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need. The prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it.
To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy. Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.