Risk Factors

Sad young womanFirst, understand that suicide is an equal opportunity killer. People who take their own lives are men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Race, religion, family status, social standing or popularity have no bearing on vulnerability for suicide. There are, however some factors that can significantly impact an individual’s risk of becoming suicidal. They include:

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Mental disorders
  • Alcohol/substance abuse
  • A family history of suicide
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • A significant loss (death, separation, divorce, moving, breaking up with a loved one)
  • Having a long term or fatal illness
  • Access to firearms or other lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders
  • Cultural or religious beliefs — for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Victim of bullying, intimidation or harassment
  • A traumatic or humiliating event
  • Feeling of being a burden to others
  • The number one suicide risk factor: depressive illness.