Suicide Prevention – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – National Institute of Mental Health

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Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline  at 988 (para ayuda en español, llame al 988). The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 911 in life-threatening situations. If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company . They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.
Suicide is a major public health concern. In 2021, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death overall, claiming the lives of over 48,100 people. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.
Suicide is when people harm themselves with the intent of ending their life, and they die as a result.
A suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the intent of ending their life, but they do not die.
Avoid using terms such as “committing suicide,” “successful suicide,” or “failed suicide” when referring to suicide and suicide attempts, as these terms often carry negative meanings.
Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include:
Other serious warning signs that someone may be at risk for attempting suicide include:
Suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored.. If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
Here are five steps you can take to #BeThe1To help someone in emotional pain:
People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. The main risk factors for suicide are:
For people with suicidal thoughts, exposure, either directly or indirectly, to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities can also be a risk factor.
Most people who have risk factors will not attempt suicide, and it is difficult to tell who will act on suicidal thoughts. Although risk factors for suicide are important to keep in mind, someone who is actively showing warning signs of suicide may be at higher risk for danger and in need immediate attention.
Stressful life events (such as the loss of a loved one, legal troubles, or financial difficulties) and interpersonal stressors (such as shame, harassment, bullying, discrimination, or relationship troubles) may contribute to suicide risk, especially when they occur along with suicide risk factors.
Family and friends are often the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and they can take the first step toward helping a loved one find mental health treatment. See NIMH’s page with resources for finding help for mental illnesses if you’re not sure where to start.
Identifying people at risk for suicide
Effective, evidence-based interventions are available to help people who are at risk for suicide.
Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to help individuals who have attempted suicide (see below). These types of interventions may prevent someone from making another attempt.
Some individuals at risk for suicide might benefit from medication. People can work with their health care providers to find the best medication or medication combination, as well as the right dose. Many people at risk for suicide often have a mental illness or substance use problems and may benefit from medication along with psychosocial intervention.
Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication used primarily to treat individuals with schizophrenia. To date, it is the only medication with a specific U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indication  for reducing the risk of recurrent suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
If you are prescribed a medication, be sure you:
To find the latest information about medications, talk to a health care provider and visit the FDA website .
Collaborative care is a team-based approach to mental health care. A behavioral health care manager will work with the person, their primary health care provider, and mental health specialists to develop a treatment plan. Collaborative care has been shown to be an effective way to treat depression and reduce suicidal thoughts.
If you’re not sure where to get help, a health care provider can refer you to a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit and information about getting help.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has an online treatment locator  to help you find mental health services in your area.
NIMH supports promising research that is likely to have an impact on reducing suicide in the United States. Research is helping improve our ability to identify people at risk for suicide and develop and improve effective treatments. NIMH researchers continue to study suicide and how to best implement suicide prevention and intervention programs in different contexts, including in health care, community, school, and justice system settings.
Learn more about NIMH research priorities and recent research on suicide prevention.
Feature Story
Evidence-based efforts to improve suicide risk screening, assessment, and intervention are helping to save lives, thanks to research supported by NIMH.
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Research Highlight
Evidence-based practices for suicide prevention effectively reduced suicidal behaviors among adults seen for care in emergency departments.
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Research Highlight
Hospital visits for urgent mental health care increased among children and teens in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an NIMH-supported study.
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Read the transcript.
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Last Reviewed: August 2023
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