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Understanding Personal Crisis, Depression and Suicide

General Statistics

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
  • The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000.  Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • 80% -90% of adolescents that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS study)
  • An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

            (Sources: CDC – Center for Disease Control, WHO - World Health Organization, AAS – American                        Association of Suicidology, NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness, NIMH – National Institute of                     Mental Health, SMH – Screening for Mental Health).

Common Misconceptions 

The following are common misconceptions about suicide:

  • "People who talk about suicide won't really do it." FALSE. Most people who attempt or committ suicide have given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," "I can't see any way out," are warning signs of serious suicidal feelings, even if they are said in a joking way.
  • "Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy." FALSE. Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing; mental illness may be an issue, but suicidal thoughts and actions are not always accompanied by what people would consider to be "crazy" behaviors. 
  • "If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her." FALSE. Even the most severely depressed people have mixed feelings and fear about death, and most waiver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to end their pain. Most people who consider suicide seek relief of pain, either physical or emotional, rather than death. 
  • "People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help." FALSE. Studies of adult suicide victims have shown that more then half sought medical help within six month prior to their deaths and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.
  • "Talking about suicide may give someone the idea." FALSE. Someone who is considering suicide will not be further convinced to committ suicide if you bring up the topic. Rather, the opposite is true; bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things anyone can do.