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It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide - Suicide Facts & Takeaways

 If you’re in crisis, call the 988 Suicide & Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, available 24/7. Or you can chat at https://988lifeline.org. 988 is free, confidential, and available to everyone. 

 

September is #SuicidePreventionMonth, and we'll share resources and stories throughout the month. In this blog, let’s review some facts and statistics about suicide and discuss the takeaways.

 

1. Suicide is more common than you might think

According to CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020[1]. To put that number into perspective, it’s about 1 death every 11 minutes!

Suicide Prevalence - 1 death every 11 minutes

The number of people who experience suicidal thoughts is even higher. In 2020, more than 12M Americans seriously considered suicide, 3M+ people made a plan, and 1M attempted suicide[1].

Suicidal Thoughts Prevalence

2. There are several high-risk populations

In 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death for Americans[1]. Several demographic/behavioral groups are at even greater risk of suicide. To name a few:

  • Men: Nearly 80% of people who died by suicide are men. While females more often have suicidal thoughts and make 1.5x more attempts[3], more males die by suicide. One reason for such discrepancy is that men use more lethal methods (e.g., 58% firearms for males vs. 33% for females)[4].
  • Middle-aged: 80% of all death by suicide in the US are among ages 45-54[5]. The suicide rate is the highest among middle-aged white males [3].
  • Youth: Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-14 and 25-34, only after unintentional injury[4], and 3rd leading cause for ages 15-24. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are even more prevalent among youth. ~20% of high school students experience serious suicidal thoughts[2]  
  • LGBTQ+: 45% of LGBTQ+ youth experience serious suicidal thoughts and are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth. Transgender adults are nearly 9x likely to attempt suicide than the general population[2]. 
  • Veterans: Suicide rates among active-duty military members are at an all-time high, and the suicide death rates are 4x higher than deaths that occurred during military operations[6]. 

 

3. Suicide is preventable

Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of underlying issues. They’re not permanent and treatable over time[7]. Most suicide deaths are preceded by warning signs[7]. Knowing the warning signs and finding the right resources during the crisis can save lives. 

 Suicide Warning Signs

4. Takeaway: We should talk about suicide more often and more openly

Talking about suicide can be scary. It’s okay to talk about suicide. In fact, we should talk about it more!

Being a serious public health problem, suicide deserves more attention and more open discussions. Normalizing suicide conversation and ending stigma around it is an important part of suicide prevention. It will:

  • Help the at-risk open up about their struggles and seek help
  • Help suicide loss survivors get support from the community
  • Help all of us understand and prevent suicide better

Why we should talk about suicide
5. References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/

  2. https://www.nami.org/mhstats

  3. https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/ 

  4. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide 

  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/suicide/at-risk 

  6. https://www.uso.org/stories/2664-military-suicide-rates-are-at-an-all-time-high-heres-how-were-trying-to-help 

  7. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2020/5-Common-Myths-About-Suicide-Debunked