Why Do People Attempt Suicide?
No suicide attempt should be dismissed or treated lightly!
A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person's life. No matter the race or age of the person; how rich or poor they are, it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.
Warning Signs of Someone Considering Suicide
Any one of these signs does not necessarily mean the person is considering suicide, but several of these symptoms may signal a need for help:
- Verbal suicide threats such as, "You'd be better off without me" or "Maybe I won't be around"
- Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
- Previous suicide attemptsDaring or risk-taking behavior
- Personality changes
- Giving away prized possessions
- Lack of interest in future plans
Remember: Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide, or call suicide crisis centers, are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves.
If You Think Someone Is Considering Suicide
- Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble
- Talk with the person about your concerns. Communication needs to include LISTENING
- Ask direct questions without being judgmental. Determine if the person has a specific plan to carry out the suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
- Get professional help, even if the person resists
- Do not leave the person alone
- Do not swear to secrecy
- Do not act shocked or judgmental
- Do not counsel the person yourself
Wisconsin suicide facts & stats >>
- Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 1% of all deaths.
- More years of life are lost to suicide than to any other single cause except heart disease and cancer.
- 30,000 Americans die by suicide each year; an additional 500,000 Americans attempt suicide annually.
- The actual ratio of attempts to completed suicides is probably at least 10 to 1.30% to 40% of persons who complete suicide have made a previous attempt.
- The risk of completed suicide is more than 100 times greater than average in the first year after an attempt - 80 times greater for women, 200 times greater for men, 200 times greater for people over 45, and 300 times greater for white men over 65.
- Suicide rates are highest in old age: 20% of the population and 40% of suicide victims are over 60. After age 75, the rate is three times higher than average, and among white men over 80, it is six times higher than average.
- Substance abuse is another great instigator of suicide; it may be involved in half of all cases. About 20% of suicides involve people with alcohol problems, and the lifetime rate of suicide among people with alcohol-use problems is at least three or four times the average.
- Completed suicides are more likely to be men over 45 who are depressed or alcoholic.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
American Association of Suicidology
Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions A brief overview of the statistics on depression and suicide with information on depression treatments and suicide prevention. (National Institute on Mental Health)
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Survivors Helping Survivors Support groups for those who have lost a loved one to suicide
Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey available via the Department of Public Instruction.