Table of Contents

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Basics

About Suicide

  • Suicide is a major public health problem. In 2002, 31,655 people died by suicide in the United States.
  • Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. In the U.S., more people die by suicide each year than die because of HIV or homicide.
  • Eleven out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide.

There are gender, ethnic, and age differences in suicide.

  • Males are four times more likely to die by suicide than females, although females attempt suicide three times as often as males.
  • White Americans are more likely to die by suicide than Americans of other racial backgrounds.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 and the second leading cause of death among those between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • Suicide rates increase with age. Elderly people who die by suicide are often divorced or widowed and suffering from a physical illness.

There is a strong association between suicide and mental illness.

  • Ninety percent of suicides that take place in the United States are associated with mental illness, including disorders involving the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Fifty percent of those who die by suicide were afflicted with major depression, and the suicide rate of people with major depression is eight times that of the general population.
  • Suicide is a preventable public health problem.

Adapted from  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WISQARS system in September, 2005.

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