Each year in the United States, over 44,000 people die by suicide, that’s nearly 1 person every 13 minutes. It has become a major public health issue and is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the US. For youth ages 10 – 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death with almost 4,600 lives lost each year. After a suicide, the effects are long-lasting in families, individuals, and communities causing pain, suffering, and loss. Learn more to help support suicide prevention.
Suicide rates have been increasing over the past 10 years. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Mental health conditions are commonly linked as the cause of suicide, but there is rarely one single factor that causes someone to consider or attempt suicide. Many issues can contribute to suicide including; substance use, trauma, untreated mental illness, physical health, stress related to jobs, legal issues, housing, and relationships.
If you know someone in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is suicide?
Suicide is when people direct violence against themselves with the intent to end their own life and die because of their actions. A suicide attempt is when a person harms themselves but do not die because of their actions.
- What is suicide prevention?
There are many different methods of suicide prevention that may include suicide awareness education, restriction of methods of suicide, counseling and clinical interventions, mental health and suicide screenings, crisis centers and hotlines and postintervention which include the person’s family, friends and community after a suicide attempt or suicide occur.
- Who is at risk for suicide?
Suicide does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity or social class. All people can be at risk.
- Do people who threaten suicide just want attention?
No matter the motives a youth shares, expressions and attempts of suicide should be taken seriously. Professional services must be sought for help. It may be a call for help, however, a mental health professional can assist not only with treatment but in helping the youth identify other ways of expressing his or her needs.
- If you address suicide with someone, does it put the idea in their head?
According to the American Association of Suicidology, research shows that talking about suicide with a young person does not cause them to attempt or complete suicide. Talking with youth creates an opportunity to discuss feelings and thoughts that might have otherwise would remain hidden. Most youth who are contemplating suicide are actually honest and relieved when asked direct questions about their suicidal thoughts.
Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
- Talking about suicide, wanting to kill themselves or die
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increase in feelings of anxiousness, anger or rage
- Extreme mood changes
- Increased alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Disinterest and withdrawn from family, friends and/or activities
- Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Risk Factors for Suicide
- A prior suicide attempt
- A family history of suicide
- Exposure to traumatic experiences like family violence or physical and/or sexual abuse
- A family history of mental illness, depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Chronic pain and certain medical conditions
How to Help
If you notice warning signs with your child, seek professional help as soon as possible by contacting our children’s psychiatric hospitals at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273), or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Suicide can be prevented and all of us can work together to reduce stigma by talking openly and honestly about it. If you think a friend or family member is contemplating suicide, PsychCentral recommends helping in the following ways:
- Take suicide seriously, and don’t minimize it
- Know the warning signs
- Approach the person
- Be direct
- Be genuine
- Help them eliminate access
- Convey hope
- Help them get help
- Call 911 in case of an emergency
What are the Treatment Options?
Treatment for suicidal thoughts or mental illness can include talking to your primary physical doctor, a mental health counselor and residential treatment. Medication can be used to help treat some diagnoses of mental health, coping skills and behavioral therapy can help a person understand their thoughts and feelings to become healthy. KVC offers services for children and teens experiencing suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, trauma or anger often develop disruptive and dangerous behaviors that parents can’t safely manage at home or in the community. Learn more about KVC Hospitals’ acute and residential treatment programs for youth ages 6-17 in Kansas.
- KVC Hospitals provides inpatient and residential psychiatric treatment services to children and adults in three locations: KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas and KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays, Kansas.
- SAMHSA Mental Health Services Locator
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Signs and Risk Factors of Self-Harm in Youth
- 7 Common Myths About Teen Suicide
- Know the Risk Factors, Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens
- Study Reveals Child Hospital Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts, Actions Have Doubled
- Q&A With Therapists About “13 Reasons Why” and How Parents Can Address Suicide
- Suicide: Preventing the Second Leading Cause of Death for Youth People
- Exposing the Connection Between Social Media and Teen Suicide
- Why We Need to Talk About Depression