Suicide is a major public health concern. Every year in the United States, more than 36,000 individuals die by suicide, hundreds of thousands attempt suicide, and millions of friends and loved ones are affected. Yet, suicide is preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate.

In some cases, a sudden catastrophic event, failure, or humiliation like a home foreclosure or job loss can leave people feeling desperate, profoundly depressed, and unable to see a way out. Factors that can contribute to suicide include:

Pre-existing depression
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.The individual may have been depressed a long time, and what appears to be financial calamity puts him or her over the edge.

Self definition
If a person defines his or her value by job or financial status, this individual may be vulnerable.

Shame and humiliation
Sudden shame and humiliation over losing money or strong feelings of guilt or self-blame can be overwhelming.

Family history
Family history of mental disorders, substance abuse, or suicide. Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse.

Signs of trouble include comments like:
“I’m finished.”
“It’s all over.”
“My family would be better off without me.”
“There’s no hope. There’s nothing I can do.”

If someone indicates they are considering suicide, listen and take their concerns seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their plans. Let them know you care, and they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help immediately from a knowledgeable professional. Don’t leave them alone.

If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).