Quick Facts

  • More women attempt suicide.
  • More men complete suicide.
  • Elderly and ages 15-24 are highest rates
  • Most in whites, except for 25-44 age range (Black)
  • A suicidal state is only temporary but can return.
  • A trail of clues is usually left.
  • Most often suicide is premeditated, not impulsive.
  • Discussion of suicidal plans and feelings acts as a deterrent.
  • 8th leading cause of death  in U.S.


Psychological Reasons For Suicide

  • Death as retaliatory abandonment
    – Killing self to “get back at” person who abandoned you.
  • Death as self-punishment
    – Torturing/Killing self to atone for guilt/shame.
  • Death as a means to end suffering, psychological pain and distress.


Historical Risk Factors

  • Made a previous suicide attempt
  • A victim of child abuse or witness to family violence
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Past or present Mental Illness


Challenges To Suicide Prevention

Soldiers who complete suicide:

  • Rarely seek help through the chain of command, Chaplaincy or Behavioral Health (< 1/5 of all completed suicides have seen BH).
  • Often don’t show “classic” warning signs of suicide in the unit.
  • Frequently choose very lethal means and act privately, precluding rescue.


Suicide Risk is Highest When:

  • The person sees no way out and fears things may get worse.
  • The predominant emotions are hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Thinking is constricted and dichotomous.
  • Judgment is impaired by use of alcohol or other  substances.


Suicide Warning Signs

  • Obvious drop in duty performance
  • Unkempt personal appearance
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Perceived Burdensomeness
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Reckless behavior, self-mutilation
  • Physical health complaints, changes/loss of appetite
  • Complaints of significant sleep difficulties


Eminent Danger Suicide Signs

  • Talking or hinting about suicide
  • Formulating a plan to include acquiring the means to kill oneself
  • Having a desire to die
  • Obsession with death (music, poetry, artwork)
  • Themes of death in letters and notes
  • Finalizing personal affairs
  • Giving away personal possessions


Risk Summary: SAD PERSONS

S- ex:  Male
A- ge:  Elderly, 15-24; especially for Caucasians
D- epression:  Precedes suicide in up to 70%
P- revious Attempts:  Most die on 1st or 2nd
E- thanol Use:  Alcohol or sedative-hypnotics
R- ational Thinking Loss:  Cognitive slowing, damage
S- ocial Support Deficit
O- rganized Plan:  A specific plan and means
N- o Spouse:  Especially within one year of divorce
S- ickness:  comorbid medical illnesses