About Suicide

Suicide is currently the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 24 in the United States and for every completed suicide there is an estimated 25 attempts. These alarming statistics from the CDC are reason enough to make suicide awareness and prevention a priority for us all. Not all suicides can be prevented, but many can. The single biggest barrier to preventing suicide is silence. Learn the facts, risk factors, warning signs, available resources, and what you can do to help us break a secret, and save a life.

Facts about suicide:

  • Talking about suicide will not put the idea in someone’s head if it’s not already there
  • Suicide is complicated: it is not caused by a single reason, factor or incident, and is rarely an impulsive act
  • Suicide is not about death, it’s about escape
  • Suicidal thoughts are temporary
  • Most people who die by suicide are struggling with an underlying mental health disorder, but most people with mental health disorders do not die by suicide

Risk factors for suicide include:

  • Untreated or undiagnosed mental health disorders
  • Family history of suicide or mental health disorders
  • History of unresolved trauma, abuse or neglect
  • Alcohol and / or substance abuse
  • History of suicide attempts (the single strongest predictor of future behavior is past behavior)
  • Easy access to lethal means (such as firearms)
  • This is not an exhaustive list, more risk factors may be present

Warning signs for youth suicide:

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, social connections/situations
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability

How to help:

  • Educate yourself about the facts, myths, risk factors, warning signs, protective factors, and available resources.
  • Talk openly about suicide if you are concerned about someone and help them create a Safety Plan. You will not put the idea of suicide in someone’s head if it’s not already there. It is important to listen with empathy, and without judgment. In many cases, the feeling of being heard is often the first step towards healing.
  • Ask for help for yourself. Never keep thoughts of suicide (your own or anyone else’s) a secret. Seek input and advice from a mental health professional or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Protective factors:

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to clinical care and support for seeking help
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide (such as firearms)
  • Strong connections to family
  • Community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent handling of disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self preservation

Links and resources:


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