PSP-Facts and Research Findings About Suicide



General Statistics

  • In the United States, more than 34,000 people die by suicide each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC 2007).
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year olds (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), CDC, 2007).
  • Ninety percent of suicides that take place in the United States are associated with mental illness, including disorders involving the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.1
  • Males complete suicide at a rate 3.6 times that of females. However, females attempt suicide three times more often than males (CDC, 2007).
  • Relative to those younger, rates of completed suicide are highest among the elderly over the age of 80 (CDC, 2007).
  • The most common method of suicide for all females was poisoning. In fact, poisoning has surpassed firearms for female suicides since 2001 (CDC, 2007).
  • Among American Indians/Alaska Natives ages 15- to 34-years, suicide is the second leading cause of death (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), CDC, 2007).
  • In 2009, 14% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide, and 11% made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during the 12 months before the survey (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, 2009).
  • Suicide is a preventable public health problem. 2



  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. 3
  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are 190 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than are heterosexual teens (Marshal MP, Friedman MS, et al – Addiction 2008).
  • Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals. (Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH 2010).
  • Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (89%) (GLSEN: Harsh Realities, The Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation’s Schools 2009).



  • About an average of 18 veterans die by suicide each day (Williams, Carol. Los Angeles Times May 11th, 2011).
  • Army: a 24% increase in suicides, from 242 in 2009 to 301 last year (Department of Defense, 2010).
  • In 2008, the Marine Corp’s suicide rate was 19 per 100,000, while for the Air Force, it was 11.5, and for the Navy, it was 11.3. All three rates represented statistically significant rises over the same figures in 2007 (Kube, Courtney & Johnson, Alex. NBC News Jan. 1, 2009).
  • The suicide rate increased among female soldiers (from 5.1 to 15.2 per 100,000) more so than men (from 14.8 to 21.1 per 100,000) when comparing soldiers who have never deployed to those currently deployed (Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members, 2011, Partnership NIMH and the U.S Army, 2011).
  • Soldiers of Asian ethnicity had higher suicide rates than other ethnicities. This was true not only during deployment but also among the never deployed and previously deployed (Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members, 2011, Partnership NIMH and the U.S Army, 2011).



  1. Goldsmith, S, Pellmar, A, Kleinman, A, Bunney, W. (editors) (2002). Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  2. Goal 1. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001). Rockville, MD: United States Public Health Services.
  3. Caitlin Ryan, David Huebner, Rafael M. Diaz and Jorge Sanchez. Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults In Pediatrics 2009;123;346.



Seek help if you or someone you know is exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

Developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).



Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for
  • helpseeking
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
  • Strong connections to family and community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent handling of
  • disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self
  • preservation


Risk Factors

Biopsychosocial Risk Factors

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety
  • disorders and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Some major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Job or financial loss
  • Relational or social loss
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence

Socialcultural Risk Factors

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior
  • Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health and substance
  • abuse treatment
  • Certain cultural and religious beliefs (for instance, the belief that suicide is
    a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Exposure to, including through the media, and influence of others who have died by suicide

Click this LINK for references:


Are you in a crisis?

Are you in a crisis? Please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline You will be routed to the nearest crisis line in your area.

If you live in Orange and Los Angeles County, please call the toll free 24 Hour Suicide Prevention Crisis Line at 1-(877) 7-CRISIS or 1-(877) 727-4747 

How you can help a suicidal person?


The following are guidelines are to help you assist a person in need. (Adapted from the Trevor Project

LISTEN. Suicidal people frequently feel no one understands them, that they are not taken seriously, or that no one listens to them. Be direct. Do not act shocked. Show concern and get involved.

ACCEPT THE PERSON’S FEELINGS AS THEY ARE. Be non-judgmental. Do not debate or tell them they should feel differently, or try to cheer the person up by making positive, unrealistic statements. Do not joke about the situation. Do not dare him/her to do it.

DO NO BE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT SUICIDE DIRECTLY. You will not be putting ideas into the person’s head. It may, in fact, be dangerous to avoid asking a person directly if s/he is feeling suicidal.

ASK THEM IF THEY HAVE DEVELOPED A PLAN FOR SUICIDE. The presence of a well developed plan indicates more serious intent. Ask if they have tried to commit suicide in the past and what method was used.

REMOVE ANYTHING DANGEROUS FROM THE PERSON that might be used in a suicide attempt (e.g., gun, knife, razor blades, pills) so long as the person helping is not put in danger through doing so. Call 911 if you feel you need assistance.

EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS FOR THE PERSON and your hope that the person will not choose suicide but instead will stick it out a little longer.


POINT OUT THAT DEATH WHEN CHOSEN, IT IS FINAL – it cannot be changed. As long as there is life, there are possibilities.

Develop a plan for help with the person. If you cannot develop a plan and a suicide attempt is imminent, seek outside emergency help from the hospital, mental health clinic or call 911.

  • In either case, get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention or activate the crisis response team in your local area.
  • Be sure there is follow up contact with a mental health professional. Do not keep this a secret. Make no deals to keep what a suicidal person has told you a secret.



American Association of Suicidology (AAS) promotes research, awareness programs, and education and training for professionals and volunteers. Also provides listing of local survivor of suicide support groups.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is exclusively dedicated to funding research, developing prevention initiatives, and offering educational programs and conferences for survivors, mental health professionals, physicians, and the public. The AFSP website provides information on suicide and suicide prevention. AFSP currently sponsors a college screening project and distributes copies of The Truth About Suicide, a film about college students and suicide.

24 Hour Suicide Prevention Crisis Line
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Services
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Crisis Line 1-(877) 7-CRISIS or 1-(877) 727-4747
The Suicide Prevention Center, originally founded in 1958 as the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, was the first in the country to provide a 24-hour suicide prevention crisis line and use community volunteers in providing hotline service. The Crisis Line is widely recognized as having developed the telephone crisis intervention model used by most crisis centers and hotlines across the nation and in the world. – Toll free in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Centers for Disease Control Suicide Prevention
This website from the Centers for Disease Control provides information on suicide definitions, national statistics, data sources, risk and protective factors, consequences, prevention strategies, translation and additional resources.

County Crisis Line 1-800-854-7771County Crisis Line 1-800-854-7771
ACCESS Center is designed to coordinate and facilitate linkages with crisis intervention and the Psychiatric Mobile Response Team 24 hours, 7days a week. It also provides an array of mental health referrals to the people of Los Angeles County. See under “24 Hour Crisis Hotlines.

Los Angeles County Youth Suicide Prevention ProjectLos Angeles County Youth Suicide Prevention Project This Suicide Prevention Web site is a joint effort between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE) Center for Distance and Online Learning (CDOL), and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) School Mental Health Services (SMHS). Personnel from these three public entities, DMH, LACOE/CDOL, and LAUSD/SMHS have formed a planning work group named the Suicide Prevention Collaborative for Schools (SPCS). The goal is to provide information and materials on suicide prevention to the 80 school districts in Los Angeles County.

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention 
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention provides an operating structure to catalyze planning, implementation and accountability for updating and advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Out of this alliance will grow advancements for practitioners, policymakers, service providers, communities, families, agencies and other partners that play a vital role in reducing the burden of suicide in America. Creating the Action Alliance was a key recommendation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Suicide hotline, 24/7 free and confidential, nationwide network of crisis centers. For Military and Families, Press 1 for Crisis Line.

Office of Suicide Prevention
The Office of Suicide Prevention offers an assortment of linkages, educational information, and resources for California residents. It is aligned with the California Strategic Plan on Suicide Prevention, a statewide project which was approved by the Governor’s Office on June 30, 2008.

Teen Line 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)

Teen Line 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)TEEN LINE is a confidential telephone helpline for teenaged callers. It operates every evening from 6:00pm to 10:00pm and is toll-free from anywhere in California. If you have a problem or just want to talk with another teen who understands, then this is the right place for you! The TEEN LINE website also offers email help, online chat, message boards, resources and information.

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ) 1-866-488-7386 (toll free hotline)

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ) 1-866-488-7386 (toll free hotline)

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

SPRC provides information on individual state suicide prevention plans and data fact sheets.

Suicide Prevention: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
One of the goals of SAMHSA is to provide individuals, families, professionals, and organizations with information and resources to seek help, provide assistance, and/or implement suicide prevention programs in their communities.

Veterans Administration Mental Health 

The Office of Mental Health Services (OMHS) internet site for Veterans, their family members, and community mental health providers.


Suicide Prevention Flyer

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