Suicide in America is a major public health concern. Around 30,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States. More people die by suicide in America every year than by homicide.

Suicide in American has reached tragic proportions. But suicide is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate in America.

Who is at risk for suicide in America?

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities are at risk for suicide. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide in America are:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Incarceration, being in prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.

What about gender?

Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide in America. Men are more likely to use deadlier methods, such as firearms or suffocation. Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide by poisoning.

What about children?

Children and young people are also at risk for suicide in America. Year after year, suicide in America remains one of the top three leading causes of death for young people ages 15 to 24 .

What about older adults?

Older adults are at risk for suicide in America too. In fact, white males age 85 and older consistently have the highest suicide rate than any other age and ethnic group.

What about different ethnic groups?

Among ethnicities, American Indians and Alaska Natives tend to have the highest rate of suicides, followed by non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanics tend to have the lowest rate of suicides, while African Americans tend to have the second lowest rate.  Minorities are at an increased risk for suicide in America.

How can suicide in America be prevented?

Research has shown that mental and substance abuse disorders are risk factors for suicide. Therefore, many programs focus on treating these disorders in addition to addressing suicide risk specifically.

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” can effectively reduce suicide risk. One type is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences by training them to consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.  Some medications may also help. However, typically people who are considering suicide are unsafe because they are in danger of harming themselves.  Typically, these people need more than individual therapy, one hour a week.  Our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of suicide, depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Suicide can be prevented; treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.

What should I do if someone I know is considering suicide?

If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications.  Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help by calling us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.  If you believe your loved one is unsafe and they refuse to seek treatment, you can take them to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911.