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