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Risk Factors of Suicide

There are a variety of risk factors that increase a person's risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Recent research has shown that most suicides are the result of an combination of biological, psychological, socio-cultural and family factors.

Youth or adults who experience the following are at a greater risk for suicide and depression:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or rejection
  • Break up of a romantic relationship OR other major loss such as the loss of income, job, home, self-esteem, social network, etc.
  • Family history of suicide, depression, violence, and/or instability
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Current diagnosis or past diagnosis of an eating disorder
  • Mental health disorders, particularly mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and certain personality disorder diagnoses
  • Disruption of routine as caused by changes in relationships, divorce, moving to a new location, or a new job
  • Death of close friend or family member, especially from suicide
  • Clusters of suicide in a fairly short period of time--these can have a "contagion" influence
  • Problems at school, at work or with the law
  • Fear of authority, peers or group/gang members
  • History of impulsiveness, lack of fear, or aggressive tendencies
  • Stress due to new situations like a new school, new job, new home or new location
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Sense of isolation or feeling different from other people
  • Living with stigmas associated with help-seeking behavior
  • Facing barriers to effective and affordable care for mental health issues/substance abuse
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Concerns about sexual identity
  • Having access to lethal means

If someone you know experiences one or more of these risk factors, encourage them to speak with a professional (link to mental health resource) to help them cope.  The list of Suicide Warning Signs may help you identify someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, and the How To Help page gives you tips on what you can do.