Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. Between the ages of 15 and 34 it is the second leading cause of death and men die of suicide four times more often than women.

The groups with the highest rates of suicide are Native Americans, veterans and white males. About 50 percent of suicides involve the use of firearms and 90 percent had a mental health disorder at the time of their death.

Wisconsin’s suicide rate is 14 per 100,000 people which is slightly higher than the national average of 13 per 100,000 people. To put this into perspective the national homicide rate is about 5 per 100,000 people. While the homicide rate has been falling for many years, the suicide rate has been climbing since 2000 when the national average was about 10 per 100,000 people.

The way we talk about suicide matters. In fact, news coverage, such as a celebrity suicides, can become an unfortunate influencer rather than a deterrent of suicide. Facing, discussing and removing the stigma that surrounds mental health will greatly impact the number of suicides that occur in people who are living with a mental health disorder.

Recognizing warning signs and intervening can be lifesaving. Here are some of the common warning signs:

  • Expressing a desire to die
  • Looking for items that can be used for suicide such as guns and poisons
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness
  • Talking about feeling trapped or experiencing unbearable pain
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Showing increased anxiety or agitation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Choosing isolation
  • Extreme mood swings

There are factors that can be promoted to lower an individual’s risk of suicide. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center lists the following as important preventative factors:

  • Access to effective behavioral health care
  • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions
  • Learning life skills such as problem-solving skills, coping skills, and an ability to adapt to change
  • Help in developing self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life
  • Involvement in cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide

If you need to intervene with someone who is a risk of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention recommends the following:

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

If you need more information, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center ( are excellent resources.