Fast Facts: Suicide’s Stigma
A fear of judgment discourages people who experience suicidal ideation and attempt suicide from sharing what they are going through – and it impedes their willingness or ability to get needed help. This stigma, which leads to rejection, ostracism, anger or discrimination is further isolating, and can have catastrophic results. Family members of those who attempt or succeed at suicide also experience this stigma.
Stigma interfering with people getting help for thoughts of self-harm has particular urgency because the rate of suicide is rising. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report, the number of deaths from suicide began to surpass the number of deaths from automobile accidents in 2009. In 2010, the number of American who died by suicide – 38,000 – was more than twice the number of those who died of homicide. Today, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.
Suicide – a Global Perspective
According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people commit suicide every year – an act of suicide every 40 seconds.
Suicide – National Statistics
- Nearly 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year – more than 100 people every day
- Firearms are used in more than half of all suicides.
- 75% of people who commit suicide saw their primary care provider during the 12 months prior. One-third had contact with a mental health provider.
- While suicidal thoughts are more common in women, nearly 80% of suicide deaths are men
- There are 25 attempted suicides for every completed suicide.
- Teens and young adults ages 15-24, attempt suicide more than 100 times for every completed suicide
- Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs
Warning Signs of Suicide
Warning signs of suicide may include a change in personality, a sense of hopelessness, talking about death, experiencing a recent trauma, giving away possessions or putting affairs in order.
What Can We Do?
We must talk about suicide, because silence only increases stigma and isolation. The profound despair felt by people who consider suicide is accompanied by an unbearable sense of loneliness, and turmoil. Suicide prevention must involve community education and individual outreach designed to lessen the fear and judgment of asking for help. In addition to engaging professional intervention, b’ing present for our friends, our family, our colleagues, and talking with them – that is what is needed.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm?s_cid=mm6217a1_w, accessed 9/4/14.
 World Health Organization http://www.scribd.com/doc/238691981/Preventing-suicide-A-global-imperative, accessed 9/1/14.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide_datasheet-a.pdf, accessed 9/4/14.
 Luoma, J.B., Martin, C.E. and Pearson, J.L. (2002.) Contact with mental health and primary care providers before suicide: A review of the evidence. American Journal of Psychiatry; 159:909-916.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide_datasheet-a.pdf
 Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6, accessed 9/4/14.