Suicide is associated with mental illness. Those who have chronic mood disorders
such as depression or psychosis are 10 to 20 times more likely to commit suicide.
About 7% of men and 1% of women diagnosed with depression die by suicide, and
two-thirds of people committing suicide are depressed. The risk of suicide is 20 to
30 times higher than rates among the general population in people with untreated
bipolar disorder (manic-depression). Misuse of alcohol and pain and opioid use
disorders are also linked to suicide and unintentional opioid overdose, as are relationship
problems and adverse life events. According to the CDC, between the
years 2000 and 2016, suicides in the U.S. increased by 30%.51 In 2017, of 47,173
deaths caused by suicide, 23,854 involved firearms, and 6,247 of these were among
individuals age 15 to 24.
An important risk factor for suicide in the United States is access to firearms. Guns
were used in 51% of completed suicides in 2013. Self-injury with a gun is fatal
84% of the time. This contrasts with an average of only 4% success by all other
means. Suicide by suffocation/hanging is 69% fatal, and falls are 31% fatal, but
together they account for fewer than half the number of deaths that guns claim each
year. There is strong evidence that access to firearms in the home is associated
with a significantly increased suicide risk and that reducing gun access for people
at risk will reduce suicide. A study of gun ownership in California found that male
handgun owners were seven times more likely and female handgun owners 35 times
more likely to die by suicide with a firearm compared to firearm deaths among
non-owners of handguns.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective evidence-based intervention for the
prevention of suicide. Other promising preventive approaches include community-
level awareness and education activities, strengthened mental health care, and
addiction treatment because opioid use is associated with increased risk of suicide
as well as accidental overdose deaths.
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, there is a new national crisis
hotline number: 988. This 3-digit number will connect callers to the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline (accessed directly at 800-273-TALK or 800-273-8255) and
route them to a local crisis center, staffed by trained crisis workers. The service is
free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This hotline can
also be used by anyone who would like to talk about life stresses or an emotional
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.