Suicide Prevention Info

Sui­cide Facts | Suicide Statistics | Risk Fac­tors | Warn­ing Signs | Pro­tec­tive Factors | How to Talk to Some­one Who May Be At Risk | Where to get help

Suicide Facts

  • Talking about suicide WILL NOT put the idea into someone’s mind. The truth is most people will be relieved that someone has noticed their pain and are willing to help.
  • About 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health challenge and/or substance abuse disorder.  About 3.5% of people with mental health issues die by suicide.
  • People who die by suicide generally DO warn others. Knowing the risk factors and warning signs and talking with the person are major factors in preventing suicide.
  • People who talk about suicide MAY be trying to get attention in order to get help. They should be taken seriously. It may be the only way they know how to ask for help.
  • Once a person’s emotional state improves, the risk of suicide IS NOT necessarily over. It may mean that they have made the decision to die by suicide and are feeling relieved at their decision.
  • Most people who think about suicide ARE AMBIVALENT right up until the end. Most people don’t want to die; they want the pain to stop.
  • Suicides are generally preventable. There are effective treatments for mental health and substance abuse problems.
  • Most suicides occur during the SPRING months.
  • About 20% of all suicide deaths are veterans.
  • Suicide is the 1oth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24.

back to top

Suicide Statistics


  • In 2013, there were 585 confirmed suicide deaths in Massachusetts.
  • Most suicide deaths occurred among individuals ages 45-54.
  • Men die by suicide about 3 times more often than women.
  • Females attempted suicide more often than males.
  • Most suicide deaths occur by suffocation.
  • People die by suicide almost 4 times as often than by suicide.
  • Massachusetts has the 48th lowest rate of suicide in the US.

United States

  • There were about 42,773 reported sui­cide deaths in 2014.
  • One per­son dies by sui­cide every 12 min­utes in the U.S.
  • It is esti­mated that over 1,000,000 peo­ple attempt sui­cide every year, about one person every 30 seconds.
  • Guns are the lead­ing means of sui­cide death in the U.S.
  • Men die by sui­cide about 3 1/2  times more often than women.
  • Women attempt sui­cide 3 times more often than men.
  • Sui­cide is the 2nd lead­ing cause of death for youth ages 15–24.
  • For every sui­cide death, it is esti­mated that there are about 147 people exposed and 18 who are intimately affected by the suicide death.
  • Based on 2014 U. S. data, the highest rates of suicide were  mid­dle aged peo­ple (45–54) with a rate of 20.2.

back to top

Risk Factors

These are influences that make it more likely that individuals may be at an increased risk of a suicidal crisis. These are meant to give insight into what may cause an increase in the level of suicide risk. It DOES NOT mean that if you have some of these signs, you will take your life. Suicide risk takes into account many factors and needs to be continually assessed by a professional. Please remember that multiple factors combine to lead to a suicidal crisis and may include some of the following:

  • Being male
  • Family history and/or exposure to suicide or mental health issues
  • Previous suicide attempt or current mental health challenges
  • Abuse (physical, drug, domestic)
  • Losses (family, friends, work, financial, etc.)
  • Being widowed, divorced or a suicide survivor
  • Aggressive or impulsive behavior
  • Lack of support structures
  • Poor help-seeking skills
  • Access to lethal means
  • Aggressive or impulsive behavior
  • Bullying
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
  • Family disruptions (divorce or problems with the law)
  • Traumatic event
  • Cultural beliefs

back to top

Warning Signs – Need for immediate action

Call 911 or seek immediate help from a  mental health provider or emergency room if someone is:

  • 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, pills or other means.
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.


  • Hope­less­ness, helplessness
  • Rage, anger, seeking revenge
  • Feeling like a burden
  • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
  • Pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with death or suicide
  • With­drawal from fam­ily, friends, sports, social activities
  • Dras­tic changes in behavior/mood
  • Depression/Anxiety/Eating Disorders
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Giv­ing away possessions
  • Tak­ing unnec­es­sary risks
  • Have experienced a recent severe loss
  • Increased use of alco­hol or drugs
  • Lack of energy
  • Unable to think clearly, can’t make deci­sions, can’t see a future with­out pain
  • Loss of inter­est in work, school, hob­bies, social activities, personal appearance
  • Declin­ing school performance/increased absences from school
  • Changes in appetite, sleep­ing habits, per­sonal appearance
  • Unwilling to “connect” with potential helpers

Pro­tec­tive Factors

Pro­tec­tive fac­tors are those per­sonal, famil­ial and inter­per­sonal fac­tors that con­tribute to a per­son’s abil­ity to cope with life. Pro­tec­tive fac­tors should be con­sid­ered in assess­ing a person’s risk of suicide.

  • Sense of humor
  • Sup­port net­work (fam­ily, friends, coaches, teach­ers, clergy)
  • Good prob­lem solv­ing skills
  • Abil­ity to express emo­tions and ask for help
  • Faith
  • Sense of hope and optimism
  • “Sur­vivor” mentality
  • Good nutri­tion and reg­u­lar exercise
  • Sense of achievements/success/esteem/being needed
  • Con­nect­ed­ness to fam­ily, com­mu­nity, church
  • Being flexible
  • Sense of purpose
  • Hav­ing access to and knowl­edge of resources for help
  • Cul­tural beliefs

back to top

How To Talk With Some­one Who May Be At Risk of Suicide

If you know some­one who might be think­ing of sui­cide, you can help them by lis­ten­ing. Very often peo­ple who think about sui­cide feel like they have no other options, like they have no con­trol over their lives, and that no one cares about them. Keep in mind that talk­ing with them about sui­cide will NOT put the idea into their minds. Often times, it is a great relief to some­one that you have noticed that they are in pain and are will­ing to help.

  • If the per­son is in immi­nent risk of hurt­ing them­selves, do not leave them alone. Call for help or 911.
  • If this is not at a cri­sis stage, offer to sit and talk with the per­son and give them your full attention.
  • Tell them that you care, there is hope, and that you are will­ing to help them.
  • If the sub­ject of sui­cide is hard to bring up, ask the ques­tion a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. For exam­ple, you could say “Do you some­times feel so bad that you think of killing yourself?”
  • Help­ing them real­ize that there are options other than sui­cide and that they do have some con­trol over their lives may help them real­ize that sui­cide is not the only option.
  • Try not to be judg­men­tal, give advice, min­i­mize their feel­ings, or solve their prob­lems. You should never try to help a sui­ci­dal per­son by your­self.  Get professional help right away.
  • Do not agree to keep this a secret. This is a mat­ter of life or death and you need to be able to get the per­son help.
  • Explain that if they had a heart condition, they would seek treatment.  They need to seek treatment for a mental health condition as well.

back to top

Where To Get Help (If this is an emergency, call 911.)

  • A coun­selor, ther­a­pist, or men­tal health clinic
  • A fam­ily mem­ber or friend
  • A teacher, guid­ance coun­selor, or coach
  • Fam­ily doctor
  • Clergy
  • An emer­gency room
  • Cri­sis help lines
  • Samar­i­tans Statewide num­ber – 1–877-870‑4673
  • National Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life Line – 1–800-273 – TALK (8255), dial 1 for veterans and veterans’ families

back to top