Suicide Awareness Fact Sheet

Important Facts

· Over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year (versus about 20,000 homicides)

· More years of life are lost to suicide than to any other single cause except heart disease and cancer (1)

· A person dies by suicide about every 18 minutes in the United States, and attempts are estimated to occur every minute.

· Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder.

· There are four more male suicides for every female suicide, but twice as many females attempt suicide.

Facts about Youth

· Suicide is the 5th leading cause of death for 5-14 year olds.

· The fastest growing age group for suicide is 10-14 year olds.

· Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.

· Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students (2)

· The suicide rate for white males between the ages of 15-24 has tripled since 1950 and for females it has doubled.

· Between 1980-1996, the suicide rate for African-American males from ages 15-19 doubled.

Facts about Older Adults

· Although the elderly (age 65 and older) comprise about 13% of the U.S. population, they account for over 18% of all suicides.

· Suicide rates for men go up with age, most significantly over 65.

· White men over 50 make up less than 1/4 of the population but represent almost 40 percent of all suicides.

· Suicide rates for women peak between 45-64 years old, and then again at 75 years old.

Depression, Alcohol, and Medical Illness

· Over 60 percent of people who take their lives suffer from depression.

· Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; more than half are successful.

· Alcoholism is a factor in about 30 percent of all completed suicides.

· Approximately 7 percent of people with alcohol dependence will die by suicide.

· People with AIDS have a suicide risk up to 20 times more likely than the average person.

United States Suicide: 2003 Official Data

    Number Per Day Rate % of Deaths
  Nation 31,484 86.3 10.8 1.3
  Males 25,203 69.0 17.6 2.1
  Females 6,281 17.2 4.3 0.5
  Whites 28,485 78.0 12.1 1.4
  Non-Whites 2,999 8.2 5.5 0.9
  Blacks 1,955 5.4 5.1 0.7
  Elderly (65+) 5,248 14.4 14.6 0.3
  Young (18-24) 3,988 10.9 9.7 11.9



· On average 1 person dies by suicide every 18 minutes.

· On average one old person (over the age of 65) dies by suicide every 1 hour 40.2 minutes.

· On average one young person (15-24) dies by suicide every 2 hours 11.8 minutes

· 11th ranking cause of death in the United States Attempts

· 787,000 annual attempts in the United States

· The majority of suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress and not manipulative attempts to get attention.2 · 2 times as many women report having attempted suicide (2)

· 25 attempts for every death by suicide for nation.

· Ration - 100-200(attempts): 1 (completion) for young people and 4 (attempts): 1 (one completion for elderly adults.

Methods Suicide Methods

  Number Rate % of Total
Firearms suicides 16,907 5.8 53.7
Suffocation/Hanging 6,635 2.3 21.1
Cut/pierce 571 0.2 1.8
All but firearms 14,577 5.0 46.3
Poisoning 5,462 1.9 17.3
Drowning 339 0.1 1.2

There is hope. There is help.

· Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized.

· Studies indicate that the best way to prevent suicide is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

· While there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is a highly treatable disorder. In fact, the treatment success rate for schizophrenia is 60 percent, compared with 41 percent to 52 percent for heart patients.

· Studies indicate that most bipolar patients who die by suicide communicate their suicidal state to others, most often through direct and specific statements of suicidal intent.

· Early recognition and treatment of bipolar disorder may prevent years of needless suffering and death by suicide. Eighty percent to 90 percent of people who have bipolar disorder can be treated effectively with medication and psychotherapy.

Adapted from and "Regis University's Suicide Prevention Resource Guide"


(1) National Institute of Mental Health and Center for Disease Control
(2) National Mental Health Association