What is suicide?

  • Suicide is defined as intentional, self-inflicted death.
  • Experts in the field suggest that a suicidal person is feeling so much pain that they can see no other option.
    • They may feel that they are a burden to others, and in desperation see death as a way to escape their overwhelming pain and anguish.

What should you do if you are in crisis and need help right away?

  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Toll-free number
    • Available 24 hours a day, every day
    • You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone.
    • You may call for yourself or for someone you care about.
    • All calls are confidential.

What are the risk factors for suicide?

  • Depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders).
    • More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.
  • Stressful life events, in combination with other risk factors, such as depression.
    • It should be noted that suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors, but are not suicidal.
  • Prior suicide attempt family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Firearms in the home (the method used in more than half of suicides)

Are people who talk about attempting suicide just seeking attention?

People who talk about or attempt suicide need immediate attention. They are trying to call attention to what they are experiencing as extreme emotional pain. Many believe that we should ignore these “cries for help” and “attention-getting behaviors” because the attention will only encourage the behaviors. Suicidal individuals are trying to get attention the same way people shout if they are drowning or are injured.

What is the connection between self-harm and suicide attempts?

  • Self-harm is defined as a deliberate and usually repetitive destruction or alteration of one’s own body tissue, without suicidal intent.
    • Other terms used to describe this behavior include cutting, self-injury, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence and auto-aggression.
  • While difficult to distinguish from a suicide attempt, it is important to understand that the person who engages in self-harming behavior does not intend to die as a result of his/her actions. The behavior is used to gain relief from intense emotions, to calm and soothe.