Is it possible to predict suicide? Suicide is a tragic and potentially preventable public health problem. In , suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U. The total number of suicides was 29,, or 1.
Suicide deaths outnumber homicide deaths by five to three. It has been estimated that there may be from eight to 25 attempted suicides per every one suicide death.
The alarming numbers of suicide deaths and attempts emphasize the need for carefully designed prevention efforts. Suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender and ethnic group and may even change over time. The risk factors for suicide frequently occur in combination. Research has shown that more than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, often in combination with other mental disorders.
Also, research indicates that alterations in neurotransmitters such as serotonin are associated with the risk for suicide. Diminished levels of this brain chemical have been found in patients with depression, impulsive disorders, a history of violent suicide attempts, and also in postmortem brains of suicide victims. Adverse life events in combination with other risk factors such as depression may lead to suicide. However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress.
Many people have one or more risk factors and are not suicidal. Other risk factors include: Gender Differences Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death for males and the 19th leading cause of death for females in White men accounted for 73 percent of all suicides and 80 percent of all firearm suicides. Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults In , suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among to year-olds -- Suicide was also the 3rd leading cause of death among children ages 10 to 14, with a rate of 1.
The suicide rate for adolescents ages 15 to 19 was 8. Among people 20 to 24 years of age, the suicide rate was Older Adults Older adults are disproportionately likely to die by suicide. Comprising only 13 percent of the U. Among the highest rates when categorized by gender and race were white men age 85 and older: Attempted Suicides Overall, there may be between eight and 25 attempted suicides for every suicide death; the ratio is higher in women and youth and lower in men and the elderly.
The majority of suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress and not just harmless bids for attention. A suicidal person should not be left alone and needs immediate mental health treatment. Prevention Preventive efforts to reduce suicide should be based on research that shows which risk and protective factors can be modified, as well as which groups of people are appropriate for the intervention. In addition, prevention programs must be carefully tested to determine if they are safe, truly effective, and worth the considerable cost and effort needed to implement and sustain them.
Many interventions designed to reduce suicidality also include the treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders. Because older adults, as well as women who die by suicide, are likely to have seen a primary care provider in the year prior to their suicide, improving the recognition and treatment of mental disorders and other suicide risk factors in primary care settings may be one avenue to prevent suicides among these groups.
Recently, the manufacturer of the medication clozapine received the first ever Food and Drug Administration indication for effectiveness in preventing suicide attempts among persons with schizophrenia. If someone is suicidal, he or she must not be left alone. Try to get the person to seek help immediately from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call It is also important to limit the person's access to firearms, medications, or other lethal methods for suicide.
Common Questions and Answers about Suicide What should you do if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide? If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, you should take their distress seriously, listen nonjudgmentally, and help them get to a professional for evaluation and treatment.
People consider suicide when they are hopeless and unable to see alternative solutions to problems. Suicidal behavior is most often related to a mental disorder depression or to alcohol or other substance abuse. Suicidal behavior is also more likely to occur when people experience stressful events major losses, incarceration.
If someone is in imminent danger of harming himself or herself, do not leave the person alone. You may need to take emergency steps to get help, such as calling When someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or other lethal means of committing suicide.
What are the most common methods of suicide? Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide for men and women, accounting for 60 percent of all suicides.
Nearly 80 percent of all firearm suicides are committed by white males. The second most common method for men is hanging; for women, the second most common method is self-poisoning including drug overdose. The presence of a firearm in the home has been found to be an independent, additional risk factor for suicide.
Thus, when a family member or health care provider is faced with an individual at risk for suicide, they should make sure that firearms are removed from the home. How do suicide rates compare between men and women? More than four times as many men as women die by suicide; but women attempt suicide more often during their lives than do men, and women report higher rates of depression.
Who is at highest risk for suicide in the U. There is a common perception that suicide rates are highest among the young. However, it is the elderly, particularly older white males that have the highest rates. And among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate. Some older persons are less likely to survive attempts because they are less likely to recuperate.
Over 70 percent of older suicide victims have been to their primary care physician within the month of their death, many did not tell their doctors they were depressed nor did the doctor detect it. This has led to research efforts to determine how to best improve physicians' abilities to detect and treat depression in older adults.
Is suicide related to impulsiveness? Impulsiveness is the tendency to act without thinking through a plan or its consequences. The mental disorders with impulsiveness most linked to suicide include borderline personality disorder among young females, conduct disorder among young males and antisocial behavior in adult males, and alcohol and substance abuse among young and middle-aged males.
Impulsiveness appears to have a lesser role in older adult suicides. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that has impulsiveness as a characteristic is not a strong risk factor for suicide by itself. Impulsiveness has been linked with aggressive and violent behaviors including homicide and suicide. However, impulsiveness without aggression or violence present has also been found to contribute to risk for suicide.