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 large and growing public health problem.

Suicide rates increased 33% between 1999 and 2019, with a small decline in 2019. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.3 It was responsible for more than 47,500 deaths in 2019, which is about one death every 11 minutes.3 The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.4

Suicide affects all ages. It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, the fourth leading cause among people ages 35-44, and the fifth leading cause among people ages 45-54.3

Some groups have higher suicide rates than others. Suicide rates vary by race/ethnicity, age, and other factors. The highest rates are among 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 are lesbian, gay, or bisexual have a higher rate of suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their peers who identify as straight.7

suicide graphic

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. Suicides and suicide attempts cost the nation over $70 billion per year in lifetime medical and work-loss costs alone.3

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 icon[PDF – 394 KB] (also available in Spanish pdf icon[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.

prevention box

Need help? Know someone who does?
NSPL Logo

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon.

You can also connect 24/7 to a crisis counselor by texting the Crisis Text Line.external icon Text HOME to 741741.

  1. Crosby A, Ortega L, Melanson C. Self-directed violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements, version 1.0 pdf icon[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 icon[PDF – 775 KB]. (2016) Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  3. CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). (2020) Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020) Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Retrieved from: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/external icon
  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 icon[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.mm6903a1external icon
  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.su6901a6external icon
  8. Chapman A, Dixon-Gordon K. (2007) Emotional antecedents and consequences of deliberate self-harm and suicide attemptsexternal icon. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior; 37(5): 543-552.
  9. Owens D, Horrocks J, House A. (2002) Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harmexternal icon. Systematic review. Br J Psychiatry. Sep; 181:193-9.