The impact of suicide and suicidal behavior

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, US Department of Health & Human Services, explain the impact of suicide and suicidal behaviors. Suicide is preventable and no life should be lost in it

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States that requires urgent attention. Suicide and suicidal behaviors impact millions of individuals, families and communities across our country every year, and can have devastating and lasting health, emotional and economic consequences. Fortunately, we know that suicide is preventable, not inevitable. At the CDC, our vision for suicide is clear: no lives lost by suicide.

Today more than ever, we must redouble our collective efforts to prevent suicide. Despite a decrease in suicide rates in 2019 and 2020, nearly 46,000 lives were still lost by suicide in 2020 alone. That’s one death about every 11 minutes. Provisional data for 2021 shows that suicide is rising again, with an estimated 48,000 people dying by suicide in 2021. People at every stage of life can be affected by suicide. In 2020, suicide was among the
the 9 leading causes of death for people aged 10-64 and the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-14 and 25-34. These statistics reflect tragically shortened lives.

Many more people think about suicide or attempt suicide than die by suicide

Almost half of us know at least one person who has committed suicide. Each of us probably knows someone who has survived a suicide attempt, someone who has lost a friend or loved one to suicide, or someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts. In fact, in 2020, approximately 12.2 million American adults have seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million have planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million have attempted suicide. Each of these deaths, attempts and struggles has an immense and often lasting impact.

Suicide is complex and is rarely caused by a single issue

Research continues to show that many factors at the individual, relationship, and community levels contribute to suicide and suicide attempts. Although mental health issues can contribute to suicide risk, suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. For example, in 2019, about half of people who died by suicide had no known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. Other factors such as personal struggles, relationship difficulties, and community or societal concerns also play a significant role in suicide risk. These risk factors may include a family history of suicide, social isolation, high-conflict relationship issues or loss of relationships, job and money problems or loss, substance use, lack of access to physical and mental health care, easy access to lethal means among those at risk, and stigma around seeking help.

Additionally, although people of any age, race, ethnicity, or gender may be at risk for suicide, there are disparities in suicide. Some people have significantly higher suicide rates than the general US population.

The good news is that suicide is preventable

Prevention is possible and personal relationships play a role. Factors that can protect people and reduce their risk of suicide include positive coping and problem-solving skills; support from partners, friends and family; feeling connected to others; access to health care; reduced access to lethal means of suicide among those at risk; and cultural, religious or moral objections to suicide.

Interventions that aim to increase these protective factors and reduce risk can save lives. Whether you’re having a meaningful conversation with a friend, connecting loved ones with community resources, or talking to a neighbor about suicide prevention services, the common thread is connection.

A comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention is essential

The CDC’s vision of “no life lost by suicide” is based on a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention. This approach relies on data to guide decision-making, seeks to address the many factors associated with suicide, aims to prevent people from becoming suicidal in the first place, and reduces the immediate and long-term harm associated with suicide and suicidal behavior for individuals. , families and communities. CDC has developed the Suicide Prevention Action Resource to help states and communities prioritize and implement comprehensive prevention strategies with the best available evidence to achieve the national goal of reducing suicide rates by 20% by 2025.

Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention

Suicide prevention requires efforts at the individual, organizational and community levels, as well as broad partnerships between the public and private sectors. This includes public health, government, education, justice, health care, social services, business, labor, media, faith-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, foundations and other organizations. other non-governmental organizations. For example, states can help reduce unemployment and housing stress by providing temporary assistance.

Health systems may offer treatment options over the phone or online when services are not widely available. Employers can implement policies that create a healthy environment and reduce the stigma of seeking help. Communities can offer programs and events to increase a sense of belonging among community members and address upstream risk factors such as exposure to negative childhood experiences. Media can follow safe reporting guidelines by providing helpful resources and avoiding headlines or details about suicide that can increase risk.

Every life lost by suicide is a tragedy. We must do everything in our power to address this urgent issue. Commitment, cooperation and leadership from a range of sectors can make a difference in suicide prevention, and we can all learn the five steps to talking to someone who might be considering suicide. We can save lives by working together to increase the connections that create healthy and resilient individuals, families and communities.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988, or chatting online at

Help is confidential, free and available 24/7.

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