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  • Writer's pictureKristin Bassi

World Suicide Prevention Day

As mental health professionals, we are aware that suicide is a serious public health problem in both the United States and all over the world. Suicide and attempted suicide contributes to premature death, long-term disability, lost productivity, and significant healthcare costs. It is also a leading cause of death in the United States.

Every year, mental health organizations and individuals across the U.S. and around the world raise awareness for suicide prevention during September, National Suicide Prevention Month.

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on September 10, as part of National Suicide Prevention Month. This day aims to spark up the conversation about suicide, and to show that recovery is possible. It’s a time to remember those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and to focus efforts towards directing treatment to those who need it most.

Suicide is preventable, but prevention requires concerted efforts from our community.

On this World Suicide Prevention day, we are taking time to share updated statistics about suicide, risk factors that can contribute to suicide, and some protective factors in preventing suicide.

Facts and Statistics:

  • Suicide rates increased approximately 36% between 2000–2021.

  • Suicide rates increased 37% between 2000-2018 and decreased 5% between 2018-2020. However, rates nearly returned to their peak in 2021.

  • Suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes.

  • The racial/ethnic groups with the highest rates in 2021 were non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people and non-Hispanic White people

  • The suicide rate among males in 2021 was approximately four times higher than the rate among females. Males make up 50% of the population but nearly 80% of suicides.

  • Americans with higher-than-average rates of suicide are veterans, people who live in rural areas, and workers in certain industries and occupations like mining and construction.

  • People ages 85 and older have the highest rates of suicide.

  • Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have higher prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to their peers who identify as heterosexual.

  • Firearms are the most common method used in suicides, being used in more than 50% of suicides.

What are risk factors for Suicide?

Suicide is not caused by a single circumstance or event. According to the CDC, certain factors, at the individual, relationship, community, and societal levels work together to increase risk of suicide. There are various risk factors, situations, or problems that can increase the possibility that a person will attempt suicide.

  • History of depression and other mental illnesses

  • Serious illness such as chronic pain

  • Criminal/legal problems

  • Job/financial problems or loss

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

  • Substance use

  • Violence victimization and/or perpetration

  • Bullying and Discrimination

  • Family/loved one’s history of suicide

  • Loss of relationships

  • High conflict or violent relationships

  • Social isolation

  • Lack of access to healthcare

  • Suicide cluster in the community

  • Historical trauma

  • Stigma associated with mental illness

  • Easy access to lethal means of suicide

  • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide

  • Previous suicide attempts

If a person experiences one or many of these risk factors, all hope is not lost. There are also protective factors that help to mitigate a person’s risk for attempting suicide.

Suicide and attempted suicide contributes to premature death, long-term disability, lost productivity, and significant healthcare costs.

What are protective factors against suicide?

Protective factors are characteristics, situations, or circumstances that can reduce the risk of a person attempting suicide. Similar to risk factors, a range of circumstances can protect people from suicide:

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills

  • Reasons for living (for example, family, friends, pets, etc.)

  • Strong sense of cultural identity

  • Support from partners, friends, and family

  • Feeling connected to others

  • Feeling connected to school, community, and social institutions

  • Commitments: identifying and engaging in activities of interest or purpose

  • Availability of consistent, high quality physical and behavioral healthcare

  • Reduced access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk

  • Cultural, religious, or moral objections to suicide

It is important to keep in mind that suicide is preventable, but prevention requires concerted efforts from our community. Some ways society at large can work to prevent suicide are by reducing access to lethal means of suicide. Firearms are the most lethal means of suicide, and the most common method used in rural areas. As such, it is understood that reducing access to firearms is a highly impactful suicide prevention strategy.

One way that mental health professionals can work to prevent suicide, is by working with our clients to help them develop better coping skills to aide in regulating intense emotions and tolerate stressful situations. We can also create protective environments, and promote healthy connections with the populations we work with.

Another way we can work towards preventing suicide is by identifying and supporting those who are at risk of suicide. If we identify a person as being at suicide risk, we can develop a safety plan with them that may include safe storage or temporary removal of lethal means during a suicidal crisis.

You can learn more about Suicide Prevention by visiting the CDC’s webpage.The statistics provided in this article were pulled from there. They also have a resource page with additional suicide prevention resources.

Remember that you are not alone, and that there are people who care about you. If you are concerned for yourself, a family member, or a friend, there is hope, and our team is here to help. Please reach out to us at NJ Recovery & Wellness and we can help connect you to a qualified professional.

Additional resources:


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