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Suicide Risk Factors

Published on: 2/13/2013 4:19 PM
The Preventable Death
  • Most suicidal people desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
  • Most suicidal people give definite warning signals of their suicidal intentions; but others are often unaware of the significance of these warnings or unsure about what to do about them.
  • Suicide cuts across ethnic, economic, social, and age boundaries.


Current Plan-Method and Timing
Like any goal, the more developed the plan, the more likely it is to be carried out. The person contemplating suicide has as their goal, ending the pain they are feeling. The more detailed the plan, having decided how (what method), having acquired the means, deciding when and where they will kill themselves, the more likely they are to bring about their own death.
Prior Attempts Family History
Someone with prior suicidal behavior is at higher risk for completing a suicide than the general population. Generally, research shows that someone with a prior attempt is 40 times more likely to complete a suicide than someone that has never attempted. The importance of prior behavior extends beyond the individual at risk. What makes suicide an acceptable option is modeling behavior by others. If the individual at risk has had a family member, close friend, or someone they respected attempt/complete a suicide they are more likely to use suicide as a coping mechanism.
Resources Internal External
We all have internal and external resources. People in a crisis often lack the ability to access their internal resources. A person who lacks external resources friends, family members and meaningful relationships, is someone who may feel isolated and alone. The person at risk for suicide is often unable to perceive the existence of either external or internal resources, even if they are available. The person's perception of not having either set of resources contributes to an overall sense of hopelessness.
Warning Signs
  • Threats
  • Dramatic changes in mood or behavior
  • Making preparations/getting affairs in order
  • Preoccupation with death/dying
  • Previous attempts
  • Isolation/withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in work, school, favorite activities
  • Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Feel hopeless/helpless
  • Take unnecessary risks, impulsive, reckless
  • Behavior changes drastically
  • Unwilling to connect with those who could potentially help
What to do?
  • Listen
  • Show concern
  • Get help
  • Be direct--talk openly about suicide
  • Learn the warning signs
  • Share the secret
Who Can Help?
  • Suicide and Crisis Center
  • School Counselor or Psychologist
  • Community Mental Health Agency
  • Private Therapist
  • Family Physician
What Not to Do?
  • Make moral judgments
  • Give advice
  • Offer simple solutions
  • Keep the suicide plan a secret
  • Try to solve the problem yourself