Suicide Prevention: Awareness, Facts & Statistics

Instructor: Gaines Arnold

Gaines has a Master of Science in Education.

This lesson focuses on the subject of suicide and factors that increase its likelihood. Statistics focusing on adult suicide, facts regarding what people should be aware of when they think someone is at risk, and keys to awareness are given.

How Suicide Can Become a Reality

Stan recently lost the love of his life. She went through a protracted illness, during which he believed in the slightest hope the doctors could give him. Unfortunately, his wife was unable to overcome the disease and Stan was with her as she slowly succumbed.

He now considers himself alone even though he has an incredible amount of support from family and friends. He appreciates the effort everyone is making on his behalf, he knows they are sacrificing for him, but he still feels the emptiness which follows the death of a spouse. His family senses his loneliness and tries to get him engaged in activities, but it is to little avail.

The problem is that Stan is starting to believe that his life won't get any better. He believes that there is only one solution for him and he is getting ready to make that step: committing suicide. Unfortunately, his family is unaware that his problem has reached that level. They are unaware of how someone contemplating suicide acts and how prevalent suicide has become in the United States.

Increasing Awareness

It is difficult to recognize when someone you know is contemplating suicide, but there are some signs that demonstrate a mindset that is heading in that direction. If your friend or family member begins to talk, act or emote in a different manner, you need to be aware of the signs.

  • If someone talks as if there is nothing for them to live for, if they actually say that they have considered the option of suicide, or they talk about emotional pain that gets more intense every day this can be a sign they are contemplating suicide.
  • With behavior, it is all about changes. A person who is usually afraid to do anything starts to act recklessly; a normally outgoing person disengages from friends and family; he or she increases their intake of alcohol to a drastic extent; either saying goodbye to people or giving items away that everyone knows are cherished.
  • Sometimes the emotional responses a person exhibits will change also. They become depressed, much more irritable, have no interest in other people or activities, or are constantly angry about nothing.

Stan's family and friends need to understand the physical and emotional loss he has suffered and be aware of the fact that his thinking could devolve to the point he considers suicide an option.

Facts About Suicide

Aside from the issue of losing a cherished loved one, there are other reasons why people commit suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website, some individuals are at an increased risk of committing suicide, such as:

  • Individuals with a history of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
  • People who have a chronic disease that significantly lowers their standard of living.
  • Teens under stress at school from pressure to maintain grades and, especially, intense bullying.
  • Those who have seen or been close to someone who has committed suicide.
  • Individuals who have made an attempt to take their life in the past, or have a family history of suicide.

Life can be overwhelming for anyone, but the fact is that there are people who do have an increased risk of actually committing suicide. Understanding this helps identify and prevent someone from taking their own life.


Unfortunately, people do succeed. But many people don't know of anyone who has actually committed suicide. The statistics for adult suicide in the United States demonstrate that it is not an isolated problem. According to AFSP:

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