According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 105 people commit suicide each day, with thousands more attempting to take their lives. In 2017, it was the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups and the second leading cause of death among persons ages 10-34 years.

Who is at Risk?

Suicide affects everyone, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about 4 times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, 3 times more women than men report attempting suicide. In addition, suicide rates are high among middle aged and older adults.Several factors can put a person at risk for attempting or committing suicide. But, having these risk factors does not always mean that suicide will occur. Risk factors for suicide include:

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • Physical illness
  • Feeling alone

What are the warning signs?

The following signs from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

 How to Help Someone Who May be at Risk:

If you know some­one who might be think­ing of sui­cide, you can help them by lis­ten­ing. Very often peo­ple who think about sui­cide feel like they have no other options, like they have no con­trol over their lives, and that no one cares about them. Keep in mind that talk­ing with them about sui­cide will NOT put the idea into their minds. Often times, it is a great relief to some­one that you have noticed that they are in pain and are will­ing to help.

  • If the per­son is in immi­nent risk of hurt­ing them­selves, do not leave them alone. Call for help or 911.
  • If this is not at a cri­sis stage, offer to sit and talk with the per­son and give them your full attention.
  • Tell them that you care, there is hope, and that you are will­ing to help them.
  • If the sub­ject of sui­cide is hard to bring up, ask the ques­tion a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. For exam­ple, you could say “Do you some­times feel so bad that you think of killing yourself?”
  • Help­ing them real­ize that there are options other than sui­cide and that they do have some con­trol over their lives may help them real­ize that sui­cide is not the only option.
  • Try not to be judg­men­tal, give advice, min­i­mize their feel­ings, or solve their prob­lems. You should never try to help a sui­ci­dal per­son by your­self. They need a lot of atten­tion, sup­port and a pro­fes­sional assessment.
  • Do not agree to keep this a secret. This is a mat­ter of life or death and you need to be able to get the per­son help.

Protective Factors:

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, pro­tec­tive fac­tors are those per­sonal, famil­ial and inter­per­sonal fac­tors that con­tribute to a per­son’s abil­ity to cope with life. Pro­tec­tive fac­tors should be con­sid­ered in assess­ing a person’s risk of suicide.

  • Sense of humor
  • Sup­port net­work (fam­ily, friends, coaches, teach­ers, clergy)
  • Good prob­lem solv­ing skills
  • Abil­ity to express emo­tions and ask for help
  • Faith
  • Sense of hope and optimism
  • “Sur­vivor” mentality
  • Good nutri­tion and reg­u­lar exercise
  • Sense of achievements/success/esteem/being needed
  • Con­nect­ed­ness to fam­ily, com­mu­nity, church
  • Being flexible
  • Sense of purpose
  • Hav­ing access to and knowl­edge of resources for help
  • Cul­tural beliefs

Where to Get Help

  • A coun­selor, ther­a­pist, or men­tal health clinic
  • A fam­ily mem­ber or friend
  • A teacher, guid­ance coun­selor, or coach
  • Fam­ily doctor
  • Clergy
  • An emer­gency room
  • Cri­sis help lines

Vital Resources: