MHAMD

Suicide

Maryland Crisis Hotline – 800-422-0009

Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255 (TALK)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths. The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.  An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.

Suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time.

Research shows that risk factors for suicide include:

  • 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.
  • prior suicide attempt
  • family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
  • family history of suicide
  • family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • firearms in the home, the method used in more than half of suicides
  • incarceration
  • exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.

However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors, but are not suicidal. Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, and a history of suicide attempts, and in the brains of suicide victims.

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