Facts About Suicide
- There is one suicide every 16 minutes in this country
- There were more than 33,000 suicides in the US in 2006
- It is the 11th leading cause of death
- Toxicology tests for completed suicides: 33% tested positive for alcohol
Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Suicide Prevention Question and Answers
- Why do People Commit Suicide?
- What are the Risk Factors for Suicide?
- Should Suicide Threats be Taken Seriously?
- What Should I do if I Think Someone May Commit Suicide?
- Will Talking About Suicide Make Things Worse?
- Is Depression a Cause of Suicide?
- Do Copycat Suicides Really Occur?
- Can Suicidal Thoughts be Cured?
- How Does Suicide Affect Family and Friends?
- Do More Men or Women Attempt Suicide?
In attempting suicide, a person is really trying to stop unbearable emotional pain. The person is so distressed and overwhelmed by their situation that they cannot see any other option. Often, a suicide attempt is a cry for help.
Suicidal people usually feel terribly isolated. In reality, there are often community resources, friends, and family ready to help them past what may be the most difficult period in their lives.
Suicide risk factors and warning signs include: suicide threats, previous suicide attempts, depression, out of character behavior, and making final arrangements. Learn more on our In Crisis page.
Yes. Always take any comment about suicide seriously. Most suicidal people give many clues and warning signs regarding their suicidal intentions, including definite warnings to family and friends.
Ask the person directly if they are having suicidal thoughts, if they plan to commit suicide, and if they have the means to do so. If you believe they are in crisis, call the Westmoreland County, PA Crisis Intervention Hotline at 1-800-836-6010. National Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK. Learn more on our In Crisis page.
No. There is no evidence that talking about suicide (in a respectful, caring fashion, in the context of prevention) increases the risk of suicide. Research does show that talking openly and responsibly about suicide helps people understand that they are not alone and that others care about their situation.
Many people who have attempted suicide were found to be suffering from one or more mental health issues, including protracted depression, anxiety, bi-polarity, psychosis, and substance abuse. This does not mean that everyone with mental health issues is at risk for suicide, only that depression and other mental health issues can be one of the risk factors.
Yes. Copycat suicides do occur under some circumstances. Persons affected are those already at significant risk for suicide, when one suicide can trigger another. Sometimes the triggering event is a media report which may inadvertently glamorize suicide (such as when a celebrity commits suicide). Young people and/or those who have lost someone close to them seem especially vulnerable to this trigger effect.
Suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated. Most people can be treated with a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Just talking with an experienced counselor is the first step. Crisis lines offer a pressure free experience that's less threatening than a meeting, and talking the situation over with a caring, independent counselor can be of great assistance.
For the survivors left behind, losing a loved one to suicide is an extremely traumatic event. Grief, guilt, anger, confusion, and emotions of distress and mourning can be quite acute for survivors of suicide. Often, the social stigma associated with suicide only makes the situation worse. Learn more on our Survivor Support page.
Women attempt suicide 2-3 times more often than men; however, men actually succeed in taking their lives nearly four times as often. From a demographic point of view, most at risk are white males 75 years of age and older.