Suicide, also referred to as completed suicide, is the “act of taking one’s own life”. Attempted suicide or non-fatal suicidal behavior is self-injury with the desire to end one’s life that does not result in death. Assisted suicide is when one individual helps another bring about their own death indirectly via providing either advice or the means to the end. This in contrast to euthanasia, where another person takes a more active role in bringing about a person’s death. Suicidal ideations are thoughts of ending one’s life but not taking any active efforts to do so.
If you are in a crisis and need help right away call this toll-free number, 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about.
All calls are confidential.
What are the risk factors for suicide?
Research shows that risk factors for suicide include:
- depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.
- prior suicide attempt
- family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
- family history of suicide
- family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
- firearms in the home, the method used in more than half of suicides
- exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.
However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors, but are not suicidal. Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin.
Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, and a history of suicide attempts, and in the brains of suicide victims.