Suicide Prevention Suicide Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Suicide (i.e., taking one’s own life) is a serious public health problem that affects people of all ages. For Americans, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death. It resulted in 34,598 lives lost in 2007. The top 3 methods used in suicides included firearm (50%), suffocation (24%), and poisoning (18%).

Deaths from suicide are only part of the problem. More people survive suicide attempts than actually die. In 2008, more than 376,000 people received medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the United States.

Several factors can put a person at risk for suicide. However, having these risk factors does not always mean that suicide will occur. Some of the risk factors identified by research include:

History of previous suicide attempts Family history of suicide History of depression or other mental illness History of alcohol or drug abuse Stressful life event or loss Easy access to lethal methods Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others Incarceration Know the Warning Signs and Get Help

Suicide has many warning signs. For more information, visit the Web site for American Association of Suicidology.

Most people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide. Too often, victims are blamed and their families and friends are left stigmatized. As a result, people do not communicate openly about suicide. Thus an important public health problem is left shrouded in secrecy, which limits the amount of information available to those working to prevent suicidal behavior.

The good news is that research over the last several decades has uncovered a wealth of information on the causes of suicide and on prevention strategies. Additionally, CDC is working to monitor the problem and develop programs to prevent suicidal behavior.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALKor visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Web site.