Suicide is a terrible threat for thousands of people, with warning signs and other risk factors often going unnoticed. But it can be prevented. And you can do your part, especially by knowing which groups are more susceptible than others.
- Talking about wanting to die or taking one’s life
- Searching for a way to commit suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness or lack of purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or subjected to unbearable pain
- Insistence about being a problem for other people
- The presence of mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders
- The person has substance use problems
- The person in question has personality traits including aggression, mood changes, and relationship problems
- Chronic pain or other serious physical health conditions
- Traumatic brain injury
- Easy access to items making it easy to take one’s life, like weapons and drugs
- Protracted stress, like bullying, harassment, or unemployment
- The presence of stressful life events, such as divorce, financial crisis, other life changes or loss, or rejection
- The person was exposed to someone else’s suicide, or to graphic or dramatized accounts of suicide
- Prior suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Childhood abuse, neglect, or suffering
Do Certain Groups Of People Have Higher Rates Of Suicide?
Suicide is a threat to anyone, but certain groups in the United States are more susceptible than others.
- Adults 45 years old and older. The middle-aged exhibit the highest suicide rate compared to other groups. Eighty percent of suicides in America are attributed to men and women aged 45 to 54. Men older than 85 have the highest rate for any group in the U.S.
- Native American Indians. Young American Indian males, particularly those living in the Northern Plains, have a higher suicide risk than other groups. Young American Indian men struggle with challenges like historical trauma, poverty, geographic isolation, cultural distress, and suicide in their communities, which, in turn, can trigger more stress. The rate for American Indian men is about 19 deaths per 100,000.
- Native Alaskans are significantly affected by suicide, grappling with shame and silence. In 2017, Alaska claimed the second-highest suicide rate in the United States. But there’s been some good news since, as new prevention efforts and awareness are counteracting difficulties like mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Men, in general. Across all age groups, men have the highest suicide rates. The suicide rate among non-Hispanic white men between 2005 and 2007 was 22 fatalities per 100,000, or four times greater than women of any ethnic or racial group, and two times the rate for Asian, black, or Hispanic men.
- Education and social networking play a role in suicide in the United States. More-educated people are less susceptible to suicide, with a few exceptions. Occupations requiring advanced education, like dentists and physicians, are linked to higher suicide rates, apparently due to stress levels, and maybe because of their widespread access to lethal drugs.
But fostering social relationships offers some protection from trying suicide. The suicide rate for married people is lower, but the chances go up following divorce or widowhood. Regular contact with other family members is essential, but meet-ups with nonfamily members like neighbors, co-workers, or club members, can lower suicide risk.
- Other groups susceptible to suicide include military veterans, people living in rural areas, and “sexual and gender minorities.”
The threat of suicide in the United States is very real, as it’s a top cause of death in the country. Here are some prevention steps you can take:
- Know the warning signs; memorize the list above, and don’t be afraid to act.
- Initiate a conversation and listen to the other person’s feelings. Stress how important they are in your life but understand that preventing suicide is often a group effort.
- Avoid making deals, and never pledge secrecy of your friend’s suicidal plans or thoughts.
- Tell an adult, parent, or another responsible figure if the person at risk is a child or teen. In all cases, don’t be afraid that you won’t be believed.
- Ask your friend if they’re seeing a mental health specialist, and do they need help to schedule an appointment or transportation to and from the appointment.
Finally, encourage your friend to know about treatment options, like therapy or medicine like ketamine.