What leads a person to suicide?

There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions go on to engage in life.

Risk Factors:

  • Mental health conditions
    • Depression
    • Substance use problems
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships
    • Conduct disorder
    • Anxiety disorders
  • Serious physical health conditions including pain
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
  • Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
  • Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

Warning Signs:


If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

Protective Factors:

  • Access to mental health care, and being proactive about mental health
  • Feeling connected to family and community support
  • Problem-solving and coping skills
  • Limited access to lethal means
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help-seeking, discourage suicidal behavior, or create a strong sense of purpose or self-esteem

Wanting to Die – by Anne Sexton

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.

I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.

Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.

I know well the grass blades you mention,

the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.

Like carpenters they want to know which tools.

They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,

have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,

have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,

warmer than oil or water,

I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.

Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.

Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don’t always die,

but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet

that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue!–

that, all by itself, becomes a passion.

Death’s a sad Bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,

raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,

leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of the book carelessly open,

something unsaid, the phone off the hook

and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

Suicide Statistics

statistics from the cdc:

There are on average 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States each year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; homicide ranks 16th. It is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds. Suicide results in an estimated $51 billion in combined medical and work loss costs. An estimated 9.3 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year. An estimated 1.3 million adults aged 18 or older attempted suicide in the past year. Of the most at risk population: Patients diagnosed with a serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than other Americans.

Take a moment to think about it. We have a little over 112 suicide deaths everyday. If 112 people were dying in a terrorist attack everyday the spending would be astronomical to prevent it. Will we ever reduce the suicide rate to zero? Of course not, but a large percentage of these deaths are preventable through proper funding, therapy, and reducing the stigma of mental illness.

#EndStigma #IncreaseMentalHealthFunding #MentalHealth #MentalIllness

Will Tonight Be The Night

July 22nd, 2009

It had been one of those weeks. I was on a bender. I was always on a bender averaging around eight drinks a day, but this one was significant, was impressive even by my standards. I was drinking more than usual during the day and then when I got off work I headed direct to the Bar. I wasn’t eating, hardly sleeping, just drinking heavily. It was a mere two and a half blocks to the Bar, I could stumble to and from there in my sleep.

I slapped my copy of Anna Karenina on the bar. I read it once every year and it was that time of year again. The days of me actually ordering a drink here had long since passed. A moment later I had my well vodka tonic and a rocks glass of Jameson. The perks of being a regular. Work had been slow and I was eager to put it behind me. Tomorrow would be better, it could hardly be worse. I glanced around the oval shaped bar, most of the usual regulars were there. The professor was talking with his latest girl. He wasn’t a full fledged professor, but a lecturer at Montana State University. He read genre fiction in his spare time. He would bring in about five books a month to trade in at my used bookstore. I almost always sold his books online within a day or two. We’d talk a bit of philosophy and the current events at the university.

P was sitting across from me drinking her coke. N her boyfriend and father of their unborn child was bartending. She had her laptop in front of her going through possible baby names. She was a photography student with a penchant for going to the strip club outside of town. N would stop by her every few minutes and they’d exchange a glance or a joke. She was talking to the girl next to her I didn’t know. We would probably talk later as we usually did. She stopped in the store from time to time, but just to say hello and see if I’d be at the Bar later.

The Jameson and vodka was going to my head quickly tonight. It could be the alcohol I’d already consumed today or the blood I’d been passing lately. This was going to be an early night even if it was my thirty-seventh birthday. J walked in, a girl who had taken interest in me a couple of months ago as the guy who was always quiet and reading. She wishes me a happy birthday ordering us each a shot of scotch, Johnnie Walker Blue. We had polished off most of a bottle back on her birthday. It had cost a fortune. She sits down and we begin to chat. She runs a construction crew and has been by my store a few times.

I’ll miss my drinking buddies I casually think to myself when I’m gone. I wonder if it will be tonight or maybe tomorrow. This is what I’ve lovingly begun to refer to as my passive suicide attempt. I’m not leaving a note, just goodbye. The world will be better off without me. I’m sure it will hurt my family, but one large hurt is better than the endless small hurts I’ve been causing them these past few years. I wonder if I’ll have many people attend my funeral. I’d like a decent size crowd. I push my empty glass forward for a refill and return to my book. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content,” I mumble.

“What’s that,” J asks.

“Just something from the book,” I pat it tenderly, “if you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

“Do you believe that?”


“I think we need another shot.” Moments later I have my well vodka tonic, a rocks glass of Jameson, and a shot of Johnnie Walker Blue all in front of me. The shot goes down a little rough. I can feel the heat of it in my belly and my stomach churns in response. I take a large swallow of my vodka tonic to calm it down. “You alright tonight?”

“Just tired,” I reply.

“Well you’ve got a long night ahead of you the two of us,” she giggles.

“I’m in,” I lie.

“Be right back,” she gets up heading in the direction of the bathroom. I take it as a sign for me to escape. I quickly stand the alcohol hitting me. Grabbing the barstool I steady myself. This could be an interesting trip home. I can feel the heat of the shots in my belly as my nausea is returning. I have to get out of here quick before I’m ill. I’ve thrown up already twice today, all liquid. I haven’t eaten anything in a few days and the cheap vodka diet is playing havoc on my system.

“Will tonight be the night the sweet comfort of death closes my eyes forever and ends the unrelenting pain,” I mumble leaving the bar for home before J returns.