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Sept. 15, 2017 // WorkLife Wisdom: Suicide Facts and Figures

The second week in September each year is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Week. It’s a good time to pause and reflect on the health and wellness of those around us, and to be aware of how someone at risk for suicide may need us to intervene on their behalf. If we can recognize the signs of a potential suicide, we can prevent a tragedy and save a life.

Below are some eye-opening statistics about the impact of suicide in the U.S.

Suicide Touches Many

  • In 2013 (the most recent year for which full data is available), 41,149 people in the U.S. took their own lives by suicide.
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for Americans overall, and the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24.
  • About every 13 minutes, another person in the U.S. dies from suicide.
  • Recent estimates suggest that for each death by suicide, approximately 115 people are exposed to the event (4.7 million annually). Among those exposed, 25 experience a major life disruption (i.e., are loss survivors) due to the devastating effects of the suicide.
  • An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.

Suicide Rates by Gender and Age

  • The highest frequency of suicide is among people 45 to 64 years old, while those 85 years and older have the second highest rate.
  • Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults.
  • Suicide rates among males are four times higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79 percent of all U.S. suicides, however, females are more likely than males to have had suicidal thoughts, and they attempt suicide three times as often.

Common Methods Used

  • Access to firearms is associated with a significantly increased risk of suicide.
  • Firearms are the most common method of suicide, accounting for 51 percent of all such deaths. Firearm use accounts for males’ higher rates of completed suicide.
  • The next most common methods of suicide are suffocation (including hangings) at 24 percent and poisoning at 16 percent.

Common Risk Factors for Suicide

  • Over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have major depression or another diagnosable mental health disorder—although many don’t seek treatment.
  • Many times, people who die by suicide have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental health disorders.

If Someone You Know Might Need Help 

  • Talk with that person; show that you care and want to help.
  • Take any references to suicide seriously!
  • Get prompt professional help – even if the person resists your efforts.
  • If there’s a crisis, seek care at a hospital, emergency room, or urgent care clinic — dial 911.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a skilled crisis counselor in your area.

Accessible 24/7, your FAA WorkLife Solutions Program offers many resources and services to help you and your family. Options available through the program include concierge services to help with everyday events needing your time and attention, child and elder care options, legal and financial services, in-person counseling, and much more.

Call your program at 1-800-234-1327, TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006, or log on to www.MagellanHealth.com/Member to begin accessing these services today.

Sources: American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness.