Suicide is a serious, but preventable public health problem. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age.
It’s important to know that anyone can be at risk — old, young, any gender, and any ethnicity. But, while there are many complex causes of suicide, it is often preventable. Preventing suicide starts with each and every one of us. Understanding the risk factors, signs and where to find help can save lives.
Where to Find Help
If you are thinking about harming yourself or concerned about a loved one call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) or connect with a counselor at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx. Each of these services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In case of an emergency, call 911.
Understanding Risk Factors
Suicide does not have one single cause, and it can affect people from all walks of life. Individual, relationship, community and societal factors can all contribute to risk. Certain factors have been found to lead to higher risk of suicide, including:
- Family history of suicide
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- History of mental health disorders, particularly depression
- History of alcohol and substance abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Impulsive or aggressive behaviors
- Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
- Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
- Loss, including relationships, work, or financial
Warning Signs for Suicide
When you notice changes in a friend or loved one's behavior, it may be a temporary moment of stress, or it may be something more. The important thing is to listen and pay attention to what's going on. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you are worried about if they're thinking about suicide.
And if you're concerned in any way, find help.
While the warning signs of suicidal thoughts can vary, the behaviors below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Talking about great guilt or shame
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Withdrawing or isolating from family and friends
- Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
Medical Treatment for Those With Suicidal Thoughts
Maintaining a good social relationship with family and friends and avoiding alcohol or drug abuse are key factors that can help reduce the risk of suicide.
Another important factor is having access to and seeking clinical care for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders when needed. Due to the link between these and the risk of suicide, treating underlying health conditions and assessing suicide risk are both vital elements in preventing suicide deaths.
Our team of medical professionals is here to help, from outpatient counseling with mental health professionals and treatment for alcohol and drug dependency or addiction to partial hospitalization and crisis care, we can help connect you or a loved one with the resources needed.
Talk to your doctor today if you are concerned about your or a loved one’s health. Find a doctor near you by visiting froedtert.com/doctors or by calling 1-800-DOCTORS.
Additional Online Resources
Many of us have had our lives turned upside down by COVID-19. Our "Brave" Clinic is here to help you cope with the stress, depression, isolation and other emotional challenges brought on by the pandemic — all through virtual one-on-one sessions.