Understanding the Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Suicide

 In Crisis?

Suicide can best be defined as a condition which occurs when the stressors exceed the ability of your system to cope. Mostly, suicide is closely associated with mental health conditions key among them depression. Conditions such as substance abuse problems, anxiety, and depression when left unaddressed for a lengthy period of time can increase the risk of suicide. It is also to be appreciated that people who manage their mental health conditions actively can lead good and fulfilling lives.

The Prevalence of Suicide

In 2009, suicide was found to be the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. In that year alone, there were close to 37,000 suicide cases as well as 1 million suicide attempts. This is according to statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control. Men account for about 79% of all suicide cases in the United States which is 4 times the rate of women.

The Risk Factors for Suicide

Suicidal behavior is precipitated by a number of factors which tend to vary with ethnic group, gender, and age. Most of these risk factors occur in combinations and hardly can you find one in isolation. Alcohol and substance abuse, depression, as well as trauma are some of the leading factors that have been contributing heavily to suicidal behaviors and thoughts. The following is a categorization of the risk factors and warning signs for suicide.

Behavioral Factors

In this category, the affected people tend to exude the following behaviors:

Isolation from family and friends

Enhanced usage of alcohol and other drugs

Suicidal tendencies such as deliberate searches online for means and materials to assist in committing suicide

Withdrawal from the normal day to day activities

Too much sleeping or sleeping for very few hours

Calling people at random or even visiting them to bid them goodbye


Health Factors

These factors have to do with the wellness of the body and mind. Among the risk factors to watch out for in this category include:

Mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, antisocial personality disorders, and psychotic disorders

Disorders due to substance abuse

Chronic or serious health conditions

Environmental Factors

These are factors that originate from around us such as the people we interact with or the environment we operate in. The most common environmental risk factors include:

Stressful life events some of which may include divorce, death, or job loss

Prolonged stress factors such as harassment, relation problems, unemployment, and bullying

Access to dangerous and lethal means such as drugs and firearms

Exposure to sensationalized or graphic accounts of suicide of other people

In addition to the above risk factors, people who constantly talk of being a burden to other people or feeling trapped and experiencing unbearable pain may have a tendency towards killing themselves. Whenever a person starts displaying signs of suicide, you should pay close attention to them and even ask them of their plans, but do not argue with them or interrupt their suicidal thoughts. Let them know that you understand and care for them and you are there to listen and encourage them.

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