Yesterday, we looked at state information showing an increase in recorded deaths by suicide over the five years of most recent data. It’s an alarming trend.
If there’s any good news it’s that there is more known now about the factors that put people at risk of suicide and more public information available to support prevention efforts.
That means as more of us become aware of the risks and the warning signs of suicide, we are better prepared to spot them and to get the person help and support to keep them alive.
And that’s the best news - that suicide is preventable.
If you don’t know the risk factors associated with suicide, now is a good time to learn them. A good resource is the Suicide Prevention Resource Center which lists risk factors, plus precipitating events, and warning signs on their website.
Keep in mind that this information is about those at higher risk for suicide. That doesn’t mean those who don’t fall in these categories cannot also harm themselves.
Here are some of SPRC’s identified risk factors:
Prior suicide attempt(s);
Misuse and abuse of alcohol or other drugs;
Mental disorders, particularly depression and other mood disorders;
Access to lethal means;
Knowing someone who died by suicide, particularly a family member;
Chronic disease and disability; or
Lack of access to behavioral health care.
Specific age, racial, sexual orientation and gender groups have additional risk for suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, including:
Stress resulting from prejudice and discrimination (family rejection, bullying, violence) is a known risk factor for suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
The historical trauma suffered by American Indians and Alaska Natives (resettlement, destruction of cultures and economies) contributes to the high suicide rate in this population.
For men in the middle years, stressors that challenge traditional male roles, such as unemployment and divorce, have been identified as important risk factors.