- Patient Comments: Suicide - Causes
- Patient Comments: Suicide - Symptoms and Signs
- Patient Comments: Suicide - Treatment
- Suicide facts
- What is suicide?
- What are the effects of suicide?
- What are some possible causes of suicide?
- What are the risk factors and protective factors for suicide?
- What are the signs and symptoms for suicidal behavior?
- How are suicidal thoughts and behaviors assessed?
- What is the treatment for suicidal thoughts and behaviors? What types of specialists treat people who are suicidal?
- How can people cope with suicidal thoughts?
- How can people cope with the suicide of a loved one?
- Is it possible to prevent a suicide attempt?
- What is the prognosis for someone who has made a suicide attempt or threat?
- Where can people get help for suicidal thoughts?
Quick GuideMedical Ethics: Physicians' Top Ethical Dilemmas
What are the effects of suicide?
The effects of suicidal behavior or completed suicide on friends and family members are often devastating. Individuals who lose a loved one to suicide (suicide survivors) are more at risk for becoming preoccupied with the reason for the suicide while wanting to deny or hide the cause of death, wondering if they could have prevented it, feeling blamed for the problems that preceded the suicide, feeling rejected by their loved one, and stigmatized by others. Survivors may experience a great range of conflicting emotions about the deceased, feeling everything from intense emotional pain and sadness about the loss, helpless to prevent it, longing for the person they lost, questioning of their own religious beliefs, and anger at the deceased for taking their own life to relief if the suicide took place after years of physical or mental illness in their loved one. This is quite understandable given that the person they are grieving is at the same time the victim and the perpetrator of the fatal act.
Individuals left behind by the suicide of a loved one tend to experience complicated grief in reaction to that loss. Symptoms of grief that may be experienced by suicide survivors include intense emotions, like depression and guilt, as well as longings for the deceased, severely intrusive thoughts about the lost loved one, extreme feelings of isolation and emptiness, avoiding doing things that bring back memories of the departed, new or worsened appetite or sleep problems, and having no interest in activities that the sufferer used to enjoy.
What are some possible causes of suicide?
Although the reasons why people commit suicide are multifaceted and complex, life circumstances that may immediately precede someone committing suicide include recent discharge from a psychiatric hospital or a sudden change in how the person appears to feel (for example, much worse or much better). Examples of possible triggers (precipitants) for suicide are real or imagined losses, like the breakup of a romantic relationship, moving, death (especially if by suicide) of a loved one, or loss of freedom or other privileges.
Firearms are by far the most common methods by which people take their life, accounting for half of suicide deaths per year. Older people are more at risk for killing themselves using a gun compared to younger people. Another suicide method used by some individuals is by threatening police officers, sometimes even with an unloaded gun or a fake weapon. That phenomenon is commonly referred to as "suicide by cop." Although firearms are the most common way people complete suicide, trying to overdose on pills is the most common way that people attempt to kill themselves.