Facts About Suicide

Suicide is a topic that is still considered taboo in some communities, and so there is a lot of silence around it. As it’s such a painful topic for many, it’s easy to see how this can be. However, breaking the stigma around suicide is important, and that means talking about it. Here are some of the most important facts about suicide, and how knowing them can help reduce lives lost in this manner. 

Defining Suicide

Firstly, we need to talk about what suicide is. Suicide is defined as death that is caused by an individual deliberately injuring themselves, with the intent to end their life. A suicide attempt, therefore, is an act of self injury that was done with the intent of dying as a result. 

Suicide As A Public Health Problem

The most recent stats from 2020 show that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States right now. Among young people aged between 10 – 14, and 25 – 34, it’s actually the second leading cause of death. However, it affects people of all ages. 

Being a leading cause of death, the numbers of people dying by suicide are high. At the moment, around 130 people die every day in the US by suicide, according to the CDC. As such, around 48,500 people die by suicide every single year. 

The number of people attempting suicide is higher, too. Right now, it’s estimated that there’s one completed suicide for every 25 attempts. 

Looking further afield, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15 – 24 globally. As such, it’s clear even with strides in medical care for mental health, there’s still a long way to go. 

Suicide Stats By Gender

Suicide rates by gender and ethnicity

Image credit: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, afsp.org

When comparing the genders against each other in suicide stats, there’s a marked difference to be seen. Overall, suicide is 4 times more likely amongst males than females, and in the US 79% of completed suicides are by men. 

When men attempt suicide in the US, they’re most commonly going to use a firearm in the process. Current CDC stats show they are used in 51% of cases. 

These stats don’t mean that women are less likely to suffer when it comes to poor mental health and suicidal ideation. Again, the CDC state that women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than men, and they experience depression at twice the rate of men too. When they attempt suicide, they are most likely to use a poisoning method to do so. 

As such, we can see that there are differing issues between men and women. With this in mind, different tactics should be used to help both groups. 

Suicide Stats By Age

Suicide rates by age

Image credit: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, afsp.org

Age is an important stat to look at when it comes to suicide. Firstly, it’s a serious issue in younger age groups. 

As noted earlier, suicide is the second leading cause of death for US children aged between 10 – 14, and adults aged between 25 – 34. You’ll also see that suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts happen much more frequently between the ages of 18 – 29 than those who are 30 and over. 

It’s not just young people who are disproportionally suffering, though. When the numbers are compared, the increase in suicide attempts is highest for men aged over 50, while suicide rates in women are most prevalent between the ages of 45 – 59. 

It’s also worth noting that suicide rates in the elderly are highest amongst those who are divorced or widowed. 

Suicide Rates In LGBT+ Community

Another section of the population that are heavily affected by suicide is the LGBT+ community. For example, children who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. They also become 8 times more likely to attempt suicide if their family do not accept them and their identity.

In the transgender community, 41% of trans adults have reported that they have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. It’s also important to note that 61% of trans people who have been victims of physical violence have attempted suicide, too. 

Overall, medically serious suicide attempts are 4 times more likely among LGBT+ children. Also, every time someone from this community is assaulted, they become 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. 

Effects Of Suicide

The effects of suicide are far reaching, both in the cases of completed suicides and attempted suicides. The monetary cost of suicide and suicide attempts is particularly high, costing almost $490 billion in quality of life and lost work costs, medical costs, and more. 

Of course, there’s also the emotional impact on those around the person who has ended their life. When they experience this, they’re likely to experience grief, depression and loss. In fact, studies have shown that they may experience thoughts of suicide themselves. 

In people who have attempted suicide, they can survive but be left with serious injuries. These can have long term effects on their health, which will impact their mental health too. While this is concerning, there is evidence that 90% who attempt suicide and live do not die by suicide in the future. 

Using Suicide Facts To Reduce Suicide Rates

These are just a few key facts about suicide, how it affects the population, and the repercussions of it. With this data in mind, it should allow us to help those who are most in need of assistance. 

What’s important to note is that suicide can affect anyone, and the reasons for suicide attempts are wide and varying. However, there are certain groups who are affected more. For example, men die by suicide more often than women, and there are high suicide rates among those aged under 34. There’s also minority groups who are affected too, such as members of the LGBT+ community. 

Now we know this, steps can be taken to help those who need it. It’s clear that different approaches will be needed for different groups, and that long term support is vital. With suicide rates actually declining between 2019 and 2020 though, we can see that the steps being taken are working.