Every year 703 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally in 2019.

Suicide does not just occur in high-income countries, but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world. In fact, over 77% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2019.

Suicide is a serious public health problem; however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multisectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed.

Suicide .

is the act of intentionally causing a person to kill themselves. Suicide is often committed out of desperation, which is often attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Stress factors such as financial difficulties, the death of a loved one, or problems in personal relationships often play a role. According to data from the World Health Organization, 75% of suicides are among middle-income people and residents of poor countries. Efforts to prevent suicide include restricting access to firearms, treating mental illness and banning drug use, as well as improving economic development.

Who is at risk?

While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners. By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

What are the warning signs of suicide?

Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include:

▪️Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.

▪️Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live.

▪️Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions.

▪️Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain.

▪️Talking about being a burden to others.

▪️Withdrawing from family and friends.

▪️Giving away important possessions.

▪️Saying goodbye to friends and family.

▪️Putting affairs in order, such as making a will.

▪️Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast.

▪️Talking or thinking about death often.

Other serious warning signs that someone may be at risk for attempting suicide include:

▪️Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy.

▪️Making a plan or looking for ways to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun.

▪️Talking about feeling great guilt or shame.

▪️Using alcohol or drugs more often.

▪️Acting anxious or agitated.

▪️Changing eating or sleeping habits.

▪️Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

Children and teenagers.

Suicide in children and teenagers can follow stressful life events. What a young person sees as serious and insurmountable may seem minor to an adult — such as problems in school or the loss of a friendship. In some cases, a child or teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances that he or she may not want to talk about, such as:

▪️Having a psychiatric disorder, including depression.

▪️Loss or conflict with close friends or family members.

▪️History of physical or sexual abuse.

▪️Problems with alcohol or drugs.

▪️Physical or medical issues, for example, becoming pregnant or having a sexually transmitted infection.

▪️Being the victim of bullying.

▪️Being uncertain of sexual orientation.

▪️Reading or hearing an account of suicide or knowing a peer who died by suicide.

▪️If you have concerns about a friend or family member, asking about suicidal thoughts and intentions is the best way to identify risk.

Murder and suicide.

In rare cases, people who are suicidal are at risk of killing others and then themselves. Known as a homicide-suicide or murder-suicide, some risk factors include:

▪️History of conflict with a spouse or romantic partner.

▪️Current family legal or financial problems.

▪️History of mental health problems, particularly depression.

▪️Alcohol or drug abuse.

▪️Having access to a firearm.


To help keep yourself from feeling suicidal:

▪️Get the treatment you need. If you don’t treat the underlying cause, your suicidal thoughts are likely to return. You may feel embarrassed to seek treatment for mental health problems, but getting the right treatment for depression, substance misuse or another underlying problem will make you feel better about life — and help keep you safe.

▪️Establish your support network. It may be hard to talk about suicidal feelings, and your friends and family may not fully understand why you feel the way you do. Reach out anyway, and make sure the people who care about you know what’s going on and are there .

▪️when you need them. You may also want to get help from your place of worship, support groups or other community resources. Feeling connected and supported can help reduce suicide risk.

▪️Remember, suicidal feelings are temporary. If you feel hopeless or that life’s not worth living anymore, remember that treatment can help you regain your perspective — and life will get better. Take one step at a time and don’t act impulsively.


Your doctor may do a physical exam, tests and in-depth questioning about your mental and physical health to help determine what may be causing your suicidal thinking and to determine the best treatment.

Assessments may include:

▪️Mental health conditions. In most cases, suicidal thoughts are linked to an underlying mental health issue that can be treated. If this is the case, you may need to see a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness (psychiatrist) or other mental health provider.

▪️Physical health conditions. In some cases, suicidal thinking may be linked to an underlying physical health problem. You may need blood tests and other tests to determine whether this is the case.

▪️Alcohol and drug misuse. For many people, alcohol or drugs play a role in suicidal thinking and completed suicide. Your doctor will want to know whether you have any problems with alcohol or drug use — such as bingeing or being unable to cut back or quit using alcohol or drugs on your own. Many people who feel suicidal need treatment to help them stop using alcohol or drugs, to reduce their suicidal feelings.

▪️Medications. In some people, certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs can cause suicidal feelings. Tell your doctor about any medications you take to see whether they could be linked to your suicidal thinking.

Children and teenagers.

Children who are feeling suicidal usually need to see a psychiatrist or psychologist experienced in diagnosing and treating children with mental health problems. In addition to patient discussion, the doctor will want to get an accurate picture of what’s going on from a variety of sources, such as the parents or guardians, others close to the child or teen, school reports, and previous medical or psychiatric evaluations.

What treatment options and therapies are available?

Effective, evidence-based interventions are available to help people who are at risk for suicide:

▪️Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences. CBT helps people learn to recognize their thought patterns and consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.

▪️Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to reduce suicidal behavior in adolescents. DBT also has been shown to reduce the rate of suicide attempts in adults with borderline personality disorder, a mental illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior that often results in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. A therapist trained in DBT can help a person recognize when their feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy and teach the person skills that can help them cope more effectively with upsetting situations.

▪️Brief Intervention Strategies: Research has shown that creating a safety plan or crisis response plan—with specific instructions for what to do and how to get help when having thoughts about suicide—can help reduce a person’s risk of acting on suicidal thoughts. Staying connected and following up with people who are at risk for suicide also has been shown to help lower the risk of future suicide attempts. Research also has shown that increasing safe storage of lethal means can help reduce suicide attempts and deaths by suicide. In addition, collaborative assessment and management of suicidality can help to reduce suicidal thoughts.

▪️Collaborative Care: Collaborative care is a team-based approach to mental health care. A behavioral health care manager will work with the person, their primary health care provider, and mental health specialists to develop a treatment plan. Collaborative care has been shown to be an effective way to treat depression and reduce suicidal thoughts.



Frequently Asked Questions About Suicide/

Suicide and suicidal thoughts/

Suicide and suicidal thoughts/


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