Know the risk factors

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those who are not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that they can see no other option.

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and anyone can help prevent suicide.  Understanding issues that are correlated with suicide and mental health is an important way to engage in suicide prevention, help others in crisis and decrease the stigma associated with suicide. The act of suicide is not inevitable for anyone. 

Evidence shows that starting the conversation with a friend or loved one, providing adequate support and getting professional help, we can help prevent suicide and save lives. 

Know the Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders

Alcohol and other substance use disorders


Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

History of trauma or abuse

Major physical illnesses

Previous suicide attempt(s)

Family history of suicide

Job or financial loss

Loss of relationship(s)

Easy access to lethal means

Local clusters of suicide

Lack of social support and sense of isolation

Stigma associated with asking for help

Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Know the Warning Signs

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawing or isolating themselves

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Extreme mood swings

Get Help

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, please talk to someone. There are 24/7 life-line options available.