Suicide (i.e., taking one's own life) is a serious public health problem that affects people of all ages. For Americans, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. It resulted in 36,909 lives lost in 2009. The top three methods used in suicides included firearm (51%), suffocation (24%), and poisoning (17%).
Deaths from suicide are only part of the problem. More people survive suicide attempts than actually die. In 2010, about 465,000 people received medical care for self-inflicted injuries at emergency departments across the United States.
Several factors can put a person at risk for suicide. However, having these risk factors does not always mean that suicide will occur. Some of the risk factors identified by research include:
- History of previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- History of depression or other mental illness
- History of alcohol or drug abuse
- Stressful life event or loss
- Easy access to lethal methods
- Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Most people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide. Too often, victims are blamed and their families and friends are left stigmatized. As a result, people do not communicate openly about suicide. Thus, an important public health problem is left shrouded in secrecy, which limits the amount of information available to those working to prevent suicidal behavior.
Know the Warning Signs
and Get Help
Suicide has many warning signs. For more information, visit the Web site for American Association of Suicidology.
The good news is that research over the last several decades has uncovered a wealth of information about the causes of suicide and on prevention strategies. Additionally, CDC is working to monitor the problem and to develop programs to prevent suicidal behavior.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
- Suicide Prevention
- National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
- The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide
CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
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