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.