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
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.