Suicide: What Causes It?

Suicide and suicidal behaviors usually occur in people with one or more of the following:

People who try to commit suicide are often trying to get away from a situation that seems impossible to deal with. Many who make a suicide attempt are seeking relief from:

  • Feeling ashamed, guilty, or like a burden to others
  • Feeling like a victim
  • Feelings of rejection, loss, or loneliness

Suicidal behaviors may occur when there is a situation or event that the person finds overwhelming, such as:

  • Aging (the elderly have the highest rate of suicide)
  • Death of a loved one
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Emotional trauma
  • Serious physical illness
  • Unemployment or money problems

Risk factors for suicide in teenagers include:

  • Access to guns
  • Family member who committed suicide
  • History of hurting themselves on purpose
  • History of being neglected or abused
  • Living in communities where there have been recent outbreaks of suicide in young people
  • Romantic breakup

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 less likely to be fatal, such as poisoning or overdose. Men are more likely to choose violent methods, such as shooting themselves. As a result, suicide attempts by men are more likely to result in death.

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.