Suicide is a leading cause of death, ranking number twelve in the United States. Recent data showed that in 2020 there were 45,979 deaths by suicide, in the United States alone. That’s an average of one person killing themselves every 11.5 minutes, averaging about 125 every single day. There are 1,149,475 cases of attempted suicide annually, equaling about one person every 27.5 seconds in the United States (CDC).
Suicide does not discriminate and can affect anyone, but the highest statistic appears to belong to white males aged 45-64 years old. It’s estimated that 3.2 million people plan a suicide attempt every year, including men, women, and teens, of all ages and ethnicities (AFSP).
Risk factors for suicide may include but are not limited to:
- Substance use disorder
- Chronic pain
- Child abuse or bullying
- Experiencing violence, or trauma
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Family history of mental disorder
- Easy access to firearms in the home
- Experience as a Veteran or First Responder
Suicide can be preventable, and while these factors should be kept in mind, most people who have them are not going to commit suicide. That’s why it’s more important to be able to recognize the warning signs, that may indicate someone could be at immediate risk.
Here are some of the top warning signs to be aware of:
- Talking about wanting to die or harming themselves
- Purchasing a gun or gathering of prescription medications
- Showing bouts of rage or anger
- Speaking of feeling hopeless with no reason to live
- Has attempted suicide before
- Increase in alcohol or substance abuse
- In extreme emotional or physical pain
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Talking about feelings of guilt or shame
- Sudden mood swings and behavior changes
- Changes in eating or sleeping routines
- Feeling unwanted, unworthy or abandoned
- Telling family and friends goodbye
- Odd posts on social media, like asking someone to watch over children or pets
- Sudden interest in creating a will
- Taking unusual risks like driving fast
- Lack of self-pride in work and appearance
Most of us at some point in our lives experience stress and depression, and need some kind of support. However, having some knowledge about the above risk factors and warning signs could allow you to intervene and possibly save someone’s life.
Anyone having suicidal thoughts who is showing extreme distress needs help immediately. Please help support them by calling or texting 988. This is a new number for the suicide and crisis lifeline. Here you can connect and speak with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and is available 24/7 365 days a year.