Fast Facts: Suicide

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.[1] In 2010, the number of American who died by suicide – 38,000 – was more than twice the number of those who died of homicide.[2] Today, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.[3]

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.[4]

Suicide – National Statistics

  • Nearly 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year – more than 100 people every day[5]
  • Firearms are used in more than half of all suicides.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • While suicidal thoughts are more common in women, nearly 80% of suicide deaths are men
  • There are 25 attempted suicides for every completed suicide.[8]
  • Teens and young adults ages 15-24, attempt suicide more than 100 times  for every completed suicide[9]
  • Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs[10]


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.

[1]Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, accessed 9/4/14.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] World Health Organization, accessed 9/1/14.

[5]Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 9/4/14.

[6] Ibid

[7] 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.

[8]Centers For Disease Control and Prevention


[10] Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE),, accessed 9/4/14.

Spotlight Calendar

Each month B Stigma-Free will spotlight a different area for attention. Blog articles, fact sheets and social media emphasis will call attention to the issue of stigma and the identified topic. Do you have suggestions for us to include? Tell us your ideas here.

February 2014 – Language

March 2014 – Traumatic Brain Injuries

April 2014 – Autism

May 2014 – Mental Illness

June 2014 – Sexual Orientation

July 2014 – Disabilities

August 2014 – Weight Bias

September 2014 – Suicide

October 2014 – Labels

November 2014 – Gender Identity

December 2014 – HIV/AIDS

January 2015 – Socio-Economic Status

February 2015 – Depression

March 2015 – Self-Injury

April 2015 – Sexual Assault

May 2015 – Food Restrictions

June 2015 – Skin Conditions

November 2015 – PTSD

December 2015 – Pay it Forward

January 2016 – Race

February 2016 – Eating Disorders

March 2016 – Learning Disabilities

April 2016 – Substance Abuse

May 2016 – Older People