Suicide Warning Signs
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Suicide is a major public health problem, with more than 32,000 persons dying by suicide each year in the United States, or about 80 suicides per day. In addition to completed suicides, another 1,500 unsuccessful suicide attempts occur each day. In the 18- to 65-year age group, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Suicide occurs in persons of all ages and backgrounds, but certain groups of people are at increased risk for suicide attempts. These include persons with a psychiatric illness and a past history of attempted suicide. Males are more likely than females to commit suicide, although attempts are more common among females. A family history of, or exposure to, suicide; altered levels of neurotransmitters in the brain; and impulsivity are other factors that may increase an individual's risk of suicide.
While suicide is not universally preventable, it is possible to recognize some warning signs and symptoms that may enable you or your loved ones to access treatment before a suicide attempt. It has been estimated that up to 75% of suicide victims display some warning signs or symptoms.
Warning signs of suicide are varied. They may include:
If you suspect suicidal thoughts in yourself or anyone, seek professional help immediately. Go to a clinic, emergency room, or psychiatric facility. Do not leave an individual alone who has expressed thoughts of suicide. In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Last Editorial Review: 10/21/2008
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