Facts About Suicide

Key points

  • Suicide is a leading cause of death.
  • Suicide is a serious public health problem.
  • Suicide has far-reaching impact.
  • Suicide affects people of all ages.
  • Resources are available to prevent suicide.
Group of people in circle of support

Suicide is a leading cause of death.

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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 healthcare can decrease suicidal thoughts and behaviors.2

Suicide is a serious public health problem.

elderly man and woman embracing
Belonging, safety, dignity and hope can support resilience and healing for individuals and communities and protect against suicide.

Suicide rates increased approximately 36% between 2000–2021. Suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes.3 The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2021, an estimated 12.3 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.7 million attempted suicide.4

Suicide affects people of all ages. In 2021, 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 20-34.3

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 are non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native people followed by non-Hispanic White people.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.56 Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have higher prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to their peers who identify as heterosexual.7 Read more about these suicide disparities and why they exist on the Health Disparities in Suicide webpage.

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

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 prolonged grief, shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide themselves.89

The financial toll of suicide on society is also costly. In 2020, suicide and nonfatal self-harm cost the nation over $500 billion in medical costs, work loss costs, value of statistical life, and quality of life costs.

Suicidal behavior also has far-reaching impact:

There were 46,412 suicides among adults in 2021. But suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. For every suicide death*, there were about:

  • 3 hospitalizations for self-harm**
  • 8 emergency department visits related to suicide***
  • 38 self-reported suicide attempts in the past year4
  • 265 people who seriously considered suicide in the past year4

*Based on the latest year of available data for adults ages 18 and older.

**Source: HCUP National Inpatient Sample (2020)

***Source: CDC WISQARS (2020)

Suicide Prevention Resource for Action

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 the Suicide Prevention Resource for Action (Prevention Resource), which provides information on the best available evidence for suicide prevention. States and communities can use the Prevention Resource 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.

Strengthen economic supports

  • Improve household financial security
  • Stabilize housing

Create protective environments

  • Reduce access to lethal means among persons at risk of suicide
  • Create healthy organizational policies and culture
  • Reduce substance use through community-based policies and practices

Improve access and delivery of suicide care

  • Cover mental health conditions in health insurance policies
  • Increase provider availability in underserved areas
  • Provide rapid and remote access to help
  • Create safer suicide care through systems change

Promote healthy connections

  • Promote healthy peer norms
  • Engage community members in shared activities

Teach coping and problem-solving skills

  • Support social-emotional learning programs
  • Teach parenting skills to improve family relationships
  • Support resilience through education programs

Identify and support people at risk

  • Train gatekeepers
  • Respond to crises
  • Plan for safety and follow-up after an attempt
  • Provide therapeutic approaches

Lessen harms and prevent future risk

  • Intervene after a suicide (postvention)
  • Report and message about suicide safely

Need help? Know someone who does?

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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System, Mortality 2018-2021 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2023. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2018-2021, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10-expanded.html on Jan 11, 2023
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2021-nsduh-annual-national-report
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Suicide Prevention Resource for Action: A Compilation of the Best Available Evidence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report: 2011-2021. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/YRBS_Data-Summary-Trends_Report2023_508.pdf [PDF – 10 MB].
  8. Hamdan, S., Berkman, N., Lavi, N., Levy, S., Brent, D. (2020). The effect of sudden death bereavement on the risk for suicide. Crisis; 41(3):214–224. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000635.
  9. Wagner, B., Hofmann, L., Grafiadeli, R. (2021). The relationship between guilt, depression, prolonged grief, and posttraumatic stress symptoms after suicide bereavement. J Clin Psychol; 77:2545–2558. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23192.