Facts About Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death.
two teens with back to the camera holding each other

Suicide is death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die. A suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves with any intent to end their life, but they do not die as a result of their actions.1

Many factors can increase the risk for suicide or protect against it. Suicide is connected to other forms of injury and violence. For example, people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence have a higher suicide risk. Being connected to family and community support and having easy access to health care can decrease suicidal thoughts and behaviors.2

Suicide is a serious public health problem.

Suicide rates increased 30% between 2000–2018, and declined in 2019 and 2020. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States,3 with 45,979 deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes.3 The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.4

Suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34.3

Some groups have higher suicide rates than others. Suicide rates vary by race/ethnicity, age, and other factors, such as where someone lives. By race/ethnicity, the groups with the highest rates were non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations. 3 Other Americans with higher than average rates of suicide are veterans, people who live in rural areas, and workers in certain industries and occupations like mining and construction.5,6 Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to their peers who identify as heterosexual.7

Suicide statistics and 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline info: If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call or text 988, or chat at 988lifeline.org

Suicide has far-reaching impact.

Suicide and suicide attempts cause serious emotional, physical, and economic impacts. People who attempt suicide and survive may experience serious injuries that can have long-term effects on their health. They may also experience depression and other mental health concerns.8 The good news is that more than 90% of people who attempt suicide and survive never go on to die by suicide.9

Suicide and suicide attempts affect the health and well-being of friends, loved ones, co-workers, and the community. When people die by suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and may even experience thoughts of suicide themselves.8

The financial toll of suicide on society is also costly. In 2019, suicide and nonfatal self-harm cost the nation nearly $490 billion in medical costs, work loss costs, value of statistical life, and quality of life costs.10

Suicide can be prevented.

Suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play to save lives and create healthy and strong individuals, families, and communities. Suicide prevention requires a comprehensive public health approach. CDC developed Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices [PDF – 394 KB] (also available in Spanish [PDF – 34 MB]), which provides information on the best available evidence for suicide prevention. States and communities can use the technical package to help make decisions about suicide prevention activities. Strategies range from those designed to support people at increased risk to a focus on the whole population, regardless of risk.

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Strengthen economic supports

  • Strengthen household financial security
  • Housing stabilization policies

Strengthen economic supports

  • Strengthen household financial security
  • Housing stabilization policies

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Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care

  • Coverage of mental health conditions in health insurance policies
  • Reduce provider shortages in underserved areas
  • Safer suicide care through systems change

Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care

  • Coverage of mental health conditions in health insurance policies
  • Reduce provider shortages in underserved areas
  • Safer suicide care through systems change

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Create protective environments

  • Reduce access to lethal means among persons at risk of suicide
  • Organizational policies and culture
  • Community-based policies to reduce excessive alcohol use

Create protective environments

  • Reduce access to lethal means among persons at risk of suicide
  • Organizational policies and culture
  • Community-based policies to reduce excessive alcohol use

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Promote connectedness

  • Peer norm programs
  • Community engagement activities

Promote connectedness

  • Peer norm programs
  • Community engagement activities

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Teach coping and problem-solving skills

  • Social-emotional learning programs
  • Parenting skill and family relationship programs

Teach coping and problem-solving skills

  • Social-emotional learning programs
  • Parenting skill and family relationship programs

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Identify and support people at risk

  • Gatekeeper training
  • Crisis intervention
  • Treatment for people at risk of suicide
  • Treatment to prevent re-attempts

Identify and support people at risk

  • Gatekeeper training
  • Crisis intervention
  • Treatment for people at risk of suicide
  • Treatment to prevent re-attempts

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Lessen harms and prevent future risk

  • Postvention
  • Safe reporting and messaging about suicide

Lessen harms and prevent future risk

  • Postvention
  • Safe reporting and messaging about suicide
Need help? Know someone who does?
988-logo

Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Connect with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.

Visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for more information at 988lifeline.org.

  1. Crosby A, Ortega L, Melanson C. Self-directed violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements, version 1.0 [PDF – 1 MB]. (2011) Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  2. CDC. Preventing multiple forms of violence: A strategic vision for connecting the dots [PDF – 775 KB]. (2016) Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  3. CDC. CDC WONDER: Underlying cause of death, 1999–2019. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2020. https://wonder.cdc.gov/Deaths-by-Underlying-Cause.html
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP21-07-01-003, NSDUH Series H-56). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
  5. Stone D, Holland K, Bartholow B, Crosby A, Davis S, Wilkins N. (2017) Preventing suicide: A technical package of policies, programs, and practices. [PDF – 6 MB] Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  6. Peterson C, Sussell A, Li J, Schumacher P, Yeoman K, Stone D. (2020) Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation — National Violent Death Reporting System, 32 States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep; 69: 57–62. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6903a1
  7. Ivey-Stephenson A, Demissie Z, Crosby A, et al. (2020) Suicidal Ideation and Behaviors Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019. MMWR Suppl; 69(Suppl-1): 47–55. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.su6901a6
  8. Chapman A, Dixon-Gordon K. (2007) Emotional antecedents and consequences of deliberate self-harm and suicide attempts. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior; 37(5): 543-552.
  9. Owens D, Horrocks J, House A. (2002) Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm. Systematic review. Br J Psychiatry. Sep; 181:193-9.
  10. Peterson C, Miller GF, Barnett SB, Florence C. Economic Cost of Injury — United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:1655–1659. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7048a1.