Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The effect of suicide can reach everyone. Several factors can put a person at risk for attempting or committing suicide.
Everyone feels sad, depressed, angry or guilty sometimes — especially when the pressures of jobs, school, family, and friends build up. But for most people these feelings pass with time. Other times, though, feelings of sadness or hopelessness do not go away. These feelings may begin to affect many areas of a person’s life and outlook. Someone who experiences these very intense feelings of sadness, depression or irritability may begin to think about suicide.
Who Is At Risk For Suicide?
The effect of suicide can reach everyone, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, three times more women than men report attempting suicide. In addition, suicide rates are high among certain age groups and in some areas of the country. 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
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
• Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
• Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
• Loss of family
• Physical illness
• Easy access to lethal methods
How Do I Know If Someone Needs Help?
There are often signs that someone may be thinking about or planning a suicide attempt. If you have a family member, friend or even a co-worker who is talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don’t wait to see if he or she starts to feel better. Talk about it. Just asking a few questions can help.
Listen to two audio podcasts, Understanding Suicide and Coping with Traumatic Events.
Other warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide could include:
• Having no desire to take part in favorite activities
• Having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
• Having trouble eating or sleeping (this can be too much or too little)
• Engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)
• Talking about suffering that feels too great
• Giving up on daily chores or household tasks
• Talking about hurting themselves or someone else
• Talking about suicide or death in general
• Talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
• Pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out
What You Can Do
Any time that you think that someone is struggling with something, it is never a bad idea to give them some support and let them know that you realize they might be having a hard time. As a family member or friend, you can help prevent suicide from occurring by taking the warning signs seriously and learning how to respond. Some suggestions include
Talk with them. Ask about the stress they feel and any problems they feel they are facing.
Tell someone you trust what’s going on. Ask for help from a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.
Talk with others. Call your local emergency number or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Encourage the person get help. Encourage them to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.