These injuries may have long-term effects

Understanding SuicideFact Sheet Suicide is when people direct violence at themselveswith the intent to end their lives, and they die as a resultof their actions. Suicide is a leading cause of death in theUnited States.A suicide attempt is when people harm themselves withthe intent to end their lives, but they do not die as aresult of their actions. Many more people survive suicideattempts than die, but they often have serious injuries.However, a suicide attempt does not always result in aphysical injury.To learn more about suicide and other self-directed violence,please visit: is suicide a publichealth problem?Suicide is a significant problem in the United States:• 38,364 people killed themselves in 2010–an average of105 each day.1• Over 487,700 people with self-inflicted injuries weretreated in U.S. emergency departments in 2011.12012 People who attempt suicide and survive may experienceserious injuries, such as broken bones, brain damage, ororgan failure. These injuries may have long-term effectson their health. People who survive suicide attemptsmay also have depression and other mental healthproblems.Suicide also affects the health of others and thecommunity. When people die by suicide, their familyand friends often experience shock, anger, guilt, anddepression. The medical costs and lost wages associatedwith suicide also take their toll on the community.Who is at risk for suicide?There is no single cause of suicide. Several factorscan increase a person’s risk for attempting or dying bysuicide. However, having these risk factors does notalways mean that suicide will occur.Risk factors for suicide include:• Previous suicide attempt(s)• History of depression or other mental illness• Suicide and self-inflicted injuries result in an estimated$41.2 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.1• Alcohol or drug abuseThese numbers underestimate this problem. Manypeople who have suicidal thoughts or make suicideattempts never seek services.2• Physical illnessHow does suicide affect health?Suicide, by definition, is fatal and is a problemthroughout the life span. Suicide is the third leadingcause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, thesecond among persons aged 25-34 years, the fourthamong person aged 35-54 years, and the eighth amongperson 55-64 years.1National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlDivision of Violence Prevention• Family history of suicide or violence• Feeling aloneSuicide affects everyone, but some groups are at higherrisk than others. Men are about four times more likelythan women to die from suicide.1 However, womenare more likely to have suicidal thought than men.3The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning,and suicide attempts is significantly higher amongyoung adults aged 18-29 years than it is among adultsaged ≥30 years.3 Other groups with higher rates ofsuicidal behavior include American Indian and AlaskaNatives, rural populations, and active or retired militarypersonnel.4Note: This is only some information about risk. To learn more, goto SuicideHow can we prevent suicide?Suicide is a significant public health problem, and thereis a lot to learn about how to prevent it. One strategyis to learn about the warning signs of suicide, whichcan include individuals talking about wanting to hurtthemselves, increasing substance use, and havingchanges in their mood, diet, or sleeping patterns. Whenthese warning signs appear, quickly connecting theperson to supportive services is critical. Promotingopportunities and settings that strengthen connectionsamong people, families, and communities is anothersuicide prevention goal.For more information about suicide prevention andconnectedness, see Preventing Suicide: Program ActivitiesGuide ( andPromoting Individual, Family, and Community Connectednessto Prevent Suicide Behavior ( does CDC approachprevention?Step 4: Ensure widespread adoptionIn this final step, CDC shares the best preventionstrategies. CDC may also provide funding or technicalhelp so communities can adopt these strategies.For a list of CDC activities, see Preventing Suicide: ProgramActivities Guide ( can I learn more?If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide,contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).Centers for Disease Control and Facebook Page on Violence Institute for Mental Healthwww.nimh.nih.govSubstance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministrationwww.samhsa.govCDC uses a four-step approach to address public healthproblems like suicide.Suicide Prevention Resource Centerwww.sprc.orgStep 1: Define the problemBefore we can prevent suicide, we need to know how bigthe problem is, where it occurs, and who it affects. CDClearns about a problem by gathering and studying data.These data are critical because they help us know whereprevention is most needed.Surgeon General’s Call to Action toPrevent 2: Identify risk and protective factorsIt is not enough to know that suicide affects certainpeople in certain areas. We also need to know why. CDCconducts and supports research to answer this question.We can then develop programs to reduce or get rid ofrisk factors and to increase protective factors.Step 3: Develop and test prevention strategiesUsing information gathered in research, CDC developsand evaluates strategies to prevent suicide.References1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury StatisticsQuery and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010). [cited 2012 Oct19]. Available from Diekstra RFW. Epidemiology of attempted suicide in the EEC. In: Wilmott J,Mendlewicz J, editors. New Trends in Suicide Prevention. New York: Karger;1982.3. Crosby AE, Han B, Ortega LAG, Parks SE, Gfoerer J. Suicidal thoughts andbehaviors among adults aged ≥18 years-United States, 2008-2009. MMWRSurveillance Summaries 2011;60(no. SS-13). Available from Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R, editors. World report onviolence and health [serial online]. (2004). [cited 2012 July 23]. Availablefrom (232-4636) • •



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