More than 32,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It’s this country’s 11th leading cause of death. That’s the bad news. The good news? Not everyone is at equal risk.
- MENTAL ILLNESS: there’s a relationship between suicide and mental illness according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. At least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illnesses — such as major depression, bipolar depression, or some other depressive illness, including:
Schizophrenia; Alcohol or drug abuse, particularly when combined with depression;
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or some other anxiety disorder;
Bulimia or anorexia nervousa; Personality disorders especially borderline or antisocial;
- PREVIOUS ATTEMPT: Between 20 and 50 percent of people who kill themselves had previously attempted suicide. Those who have made serious suicide attempts are at a much higher risk for actually taking their lives.
- In addition, impulsivity, a family history, low serotonin levels, or being an elderly Caucasian male, all elevate risk. Males are three to five times more likely to commit suicide than females.
Besides the broad factors outlined above, there can be crises –limited time factors or distressing events — which set the stage and put individuals at special risk for a suicide attempt by giving rise to an intense inner sensation of urgency, anguish or tension.