April 20, 2019
Gauging Suicide Risk

Gauging Suicide Risk

by Peter Jaret  

Certain factors, including those below, are associated with an increased risk of suicide, though most people with these risk factors don’t attempt suicide:

  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Depression and other mental health disorders
  • A substance abuse disorder
  • A family history of mental illness; substance abuse; suicide; or family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having easy access to firearms or potentially lethal medications
  • A significant loss (relationship, work, or financial)
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of a family member, a peer, or a media figure
  • Physical illness, especially when it significantly limits function or life expectancy or involves intractable chronic pain
  • Social isolation or no social support
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental illness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Sense of persistent hopelessness
  • Certain cultural, philosophical, or religious beliefs, such as a belief that suicide is a noble resolution for a personal dilemma
  • Being between ages 15 and 24 or over age 60
  • Being a military veteran in overseas conflicts
  • Being in prison or jail

This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.