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Suicide is the act of taking one's own life on purpose. Suicidal behavior is any action that could cause a person to die, such as taking a drug overdose or crashing a car on purpose.
Suicide and suicidal behaviors usually occur in people with:
People who try to commit suicide are often trying to get away from a life situation that seems impossible to deal with. Many who make a suicide attempt are seeking relief from:
Suicidal behaviors may be caused by a situation or event that the person views as overwhelming, such as:
Risk factors for suicide in teenagers include:
Most suicide attempts do not result in death. Many of these attempts are done in a way that makes rescue possible. These attempts are often a cry for help.
Some people attempt suicide in a way that is somewhat nonviolent, such as poisoning or overdose. Males, especially elderly men, are more likely to choose violent methods, such as shooting themselves. As a result, suicide attempts by males are more likely to be completed.
Relatives of people who attempt or commit suicide often blame themselves or become very angry. They may see the suicide attempt as selfish. However, people who try to commit suicide often mistakenly believe that they are doing their friends and relatives a favor by taking themselves out of the world.
Often, but not always, a person may show certain symptoms or behaviors before a suicide attempt, including:
A person may need emergency treatment after a suicide attempt. They may need first aid, CPR, or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
People who try to commit suicide may need to stay in a hospital for treatment and to reduce the risk of future attempts. Therapy is one of the most important parts of treatment.
The condition that may have caused the suicide attempt should be treated. This includes:
People who are at risk for suicidal behavior may not get treated for many reasons, including:
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are numbers that you can call from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-999-9999.
As with any other type of emergency, call the local emergency number (such as 911) right away if someone you know has attempted suicide. Do not leave the person alone, even after you have called for help.
Always take suicide attempts and threats seriously. About one-third of people who try to commit suicide will try again within 1 year. About 10% of people who threaten or try to commit suicide will eventually kill themselves.
The person needs mental health care right away. Do not dismiss the person as just trying to get attention.
Complications depend on the type of suicide attempt.
Call a health care provider right away if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs (other than prescribed medicines) can reduce the risk of suicide.
In homes with children or teenagers:
Many people who try to commit suicide talk about it before making the attempt. Sometimes, just talking to someone who cares and who does not judge them is enough to reduce the risk of suicide. For this reason, suicide prevention centers have telephone "hotline" services.
Never ignore a suicide threat or attempted suicide.
Zuckerbrot RA, Cheung AH, Jensen PS, Stein RE, Laraque D; GLAD-PC Steering Group. Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care (GLAD-PC):I. Identification, assessment, and initial management. Pediatrics. 2007;120:e1299-e1312.
Gelenberg AJ, Freeman MP, Markowitz JC, et al. Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2000;157:1-45.
Bridge JA, Iyengar S, Salary CB, et al. Clinical response and risk for reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in pediatric antidepressant treatment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA. 2007;297:1683-1696.
Cheung AH, Zuckerbrot RA, Jensen PS, Ghalib K, Laraque D, Stein RE; GLAD-PC Steering Group. Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care (GLAD-PC):II. Treatment and ongoing management. Pediatrics. 2007;120:e1313-e1326.