Suicide is a potentially preventable public health problem that counts for over 1% of all deaths in the U.S. In 2001, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. Among young people (aged 15 to 24), suicide is the third most common cause of death. Four times as many men die by suicide than women, and 73% of all suicide deaths are white males.
Risk factors for thoughts of suicide can vary with age, gender and ethnic group, and these risk factors often occur in combination. Over 90% of people who die by suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, often in combination with other mental disorders. Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors such as depression may lead to suicide, but suicide and suicidal behavior should not be considered normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include prior suicide attempt(s), family history of mental disorder or substance abuse, family history of suicide, family violence, physical or sexual abuse, keeping firearms in the home, incarceration, and exposure to the suicidal behavior of others.