Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day. In Illinois, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults ages 15 to 34. Suicide deaths are only part of the problem. In Illinois, for every adolescent suicide there are an estimated 100 adolescent suicide attempts. Unsuccessful suicide attempts increase the risk of future suicide attempts.

While many people may have a basic awareness of suicide, much of the tragedy of suicide is hidden by stigma, myth, and shame not only about suicide but also about depression and mental illness. Suicide prevention and intervention efforts are often affected by these stigma. In addition, many people believe that talking about suicide causes it to happen, but research shows that suicide is preventable.

Who’s at Risk?

Suicide does not discriminate based on race, gender or age. However, there is a higher risk of suicide for those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. In fact, the risk of suicide is increased by more than 50 percent in individuals affected by depression. Studies also show roughly 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide have one or more mental disorders.

Some groups are at higher risk than others. In Illinois, men are three to four times more likely than women to die from suicide. More women than men report attempting suicide. In addition, suicide rates are higher among middle aged adults; whereas suicide attempt rates are higher among young people.

Warning Signs for Suicide

Seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life