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Suicide FAQs

FYI: Every 100 minutes in the United States another teenager will commit suicide.

Many of our letters have come from families of teenagers struggling to understand the suicide attempts of friends or family. These are some commonly asked questions:

Q. What percentage of high school and college students who kill themselves are male? Why do you think more/ less males than females kill themselves?

A. Seventy-five to eighty percent are male although more females attempt suicide. Males are often more involved than females in forms of aggressive and violent behavior and their methods tend to be more violent and deadly.

Q.  I've heard that suicides are more frequent around the holidays?

A. Suicides are not more frequent during the holidays. It appears that the rates are the highest in April, and in June and July. (Source: Vital Statistics of the United States). It is true, however, that if someone is feeling alone, depressed or isolated these feelings often intensify around the holidays.

Q. It is often said that a suicidal person goes through a period where he/she seeks help from other people. Does this then mean that it COULD be ultimately the fault of other people (because they don't appear concerned enough) that one decides to kill him/herself?

A.  No way! Not a fair conclusion although it could be a contributing factor in some cases particularly with the elderly, or with terminally ill people.

Q.  What is the most common cause of suicide among college students?

A. Ninety-five percent are suffering from depression. If depression is combined with substance abuse, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, impulsivity, and desperation, the risk of suicide increases.

Q. Besides talking to a suicidal person and encouraging him/her to go for counseling, what else can another person or friend do to prevent this?

A. Going with someone to the counselor often helps. If the person won't listen to you, you may need to talk to someone who might influence him or her. Saving a life is more important than violating a confidence, remember that.

Q.  People often get uncomfortable when one discloses something as intimate and frightening as suicidal thoughts. What do you think can be done to reduce this stigma, either of suicidal people, or of depressive people? Can people actually "change" their minds and accept someone who is suicidal?

A.  As people recognize that suicidal behavior is the result of a complex medical and psychological condition and not a sign of weakness, it will change. It will probably take a long time to change.

Q.  What is the most frequent method of suicide? Is it different for men and women?

A  Sixty percent of all people who commit suicide kill themselves with a firearm, accounting for more than 18,000 deaths each year in the United States. Firearms are now the most frequent method of suicide for men and women of all ages, including boys and girls aged 10 to 15 years.

FYI:  More than 32,000 people in the United States die by suicide. It is the country's 8th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon.

The factors that contribute to any particular suicide are diverse and complex, so our efforts to understand it must incorporate many approaches. The clinical, neurobiological, and psychosocial aspects of suicide are some of the major lines of inquiry into suicide.

Thanks and appreciation are extended to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for providing information for this topic. 1-888-333-AFSP (2377) in the US.

In the United States the Suicide Hotline is: 1-800-999-9999 and 1-800-SUICIDE

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