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Suicide Information

Suicide is when a person directs violence at themselves with the intent to end their lives, and they die because of their actions. It’s best to avoid the use of terms like “committing suicide” or a “successful suicide” when referring to a death by suicide as these terms often carry negative connotations.

A suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the intent to end their lives, but they do not die because of their actions.


There is a National strategy to prevent suicide as well as a statewide strategy, and a local strategy within the Wisconsin Fox Valley. Please visit the Resources tab for more information on these strategies.


If I ask someone about suicide, doesn’t that put the idea into their head?

This is actually a myth and not true. Many studies have examined this concern and demonstrated that asking people about suicidal thoughts and behavior does not induce or increase such thoughts and experiences. In fact, asking someone directly, “Are you thinking of killing yourself,” can be the best way to identify someone at risk for suicide. Although we may feel uncomfortable asking the question, sometimes being direct is comforting to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Facts & Statistics

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)

Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)

There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)

Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)

Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)

The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)

80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS study)

An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).

There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)

There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

Wisconsin’s suicide rate rose 40% between 2000 and 2017 according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

We continue to see the highest rate of suicides among individuals between the ages of 45-54, and most commonly male.

In 2017, suicide was the SECOND leading cause of death among adolescents in Wisconsin.

Warning Signs

If you or someone you know exhibits several of the suicide warning signs listed below, immediate action is required. Please get help immediately.

Some people who die by suicide do not exhibit any warning signs, but about 75 percent of those who die by suicide do demonstrate some warning behaviors. You can help to prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, taking those signs seriously and knowing how to respond to them. Always take the warning signs of suicide seriously.


Risk Factors


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:

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.


How to Help

Learn the warning signs and risk factors surrounding suicide
The more familiar you are with these issues, the better you can identify someone who may be depressed or suicidal.

Get comfortable discussing suicide, death, and guilt.
Honestly addressing your own feelings with these issues will help you talk with others without fear. If you are not comfortable talking about these topics, others will not be either.

When approaching someone who may be depressed or suicidal, be willing to listen.
Allow expression of all of their feelings like rage, sadness, crying, and loneliness. Try not to appear shocked at anything they tell you and be as non-judgmental as possible. Do not try and debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether their feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture them on the value of life. Listen as openly as possible to everything they are saying. Many times, they need someone to listen and hear their fears and thoughts out loud.

Never promise confidentiality.
You may not be able to keep that promise. If they ask you to, you can say, “I can try, but if I have to, I will tell someone. I care about you too much to not get help for you if I can. If I can find a way to help you feel better, I may have to tell someone what you told me. It’s more important that you stay alive. You’re just too important to me. Ok?”

Ask them directly if they have been thinking about suicide or homicide or harming themselves.
You can restate this depending on the age, such as: “Are you thinking you don’t want to be here anymore? Are you thinking that it’s too hard to stay alive anymore?”

You want to find out:

If they have been having suicidal thoughts.
If they have a suicide plan – ask exactly what it is they intend to do.
If there is any history of suicide attempts or rehearsing suicide
If there are alcohol or drug abuse issues
If they have been experiencing high anxiety, restlessness, problems sleeping and/or problems eating
If they have access to fatal weapons (pills, guns, knives, razors, ropes or cords, etc.)
Never dare a person to attempt suicide.
Any person who expresses suicidal thoughts or feelings should be taken seriously. Let the person know that you are taking them seriously and that you plan to get help for them.

Stay with them.
Do not leave a suicidal person alone. Most suicides occur when people are alone. Be available and show interest and support for them.

Call for help.
Call 911 if there is ANY indication you / others may be in critical danger. Call others to be with you, so that you do not have to handle this alone. Call a doctor, nurse, family member, suicide prevention or crisis center for help. Below are some recommended contacts in Winnebago County:

General 800-273-8255         24/7 Free and Confidential

United Way Information and Referral: 211

National Crisis Lines

800 273 TALK (8255) Veterans Line, Press 1

If you believe this person is an immediate danger to him/herself or others please seek immediate help!

QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer




Adult Mental Health First Aid