Suicidal Tendencies

What Are Suicidal Tendencies?

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. And unlike other causes—such as cancer and heart disease—it is one of the few that is increasing, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

An even more daunting statistic: At least 90 percent of people who die by suicide had a mental illness at the time, most often depression.

While 75-80 percent of deaths by suicide are male, women account for about three-fourths of all non-fatal suicide attempts. This difference is typically brought on by the method of choice for death by suicide. Men are more likely to choose firearms and other highly lethal methods. Women tend to choose medication and other poisons, though firearm use is growing.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not a natural response to serious life stressors or life-threatening illnesses. While those who experience a job loss or divorce may have periods of intense sadness, anxiety or anger, they are unlikely to create a plan to die. Often, for those who do attempt death by suicide, it is the result of this stressor in combination with another underlying mental condition, such as clinical depression.


What Are Symptoms of Suicidal Tendencies?

An intense emotional state—such as depression, hopelessness, anxiety or rage—increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Those who are always talking about death, or who tempt fate through risky behaviors, such as driving fast or running red lights, may be showing signs of suicidal tendencies.

A person who loses interest in things he used to care about, or who ties up loose ends—such as changing a will—may be considering a suicide attempt. Those who have been sad and suddenly appear happy or calm may also be planning a suicide.

In addition to mental disorders, those who are most at risk of suicide may:

    • Have previously attempted to take their own lives. According to the AFSP, 20 percent of those who die by suicide have made attempts in the past.
    • Have a family history of suicide. While the underlying mental illness also may be hereditary, there is research to suggest that suicide alone may have a genetic link.
  • Have an underlying medical condition or pain.
  • Have an environmental stressor, such as bullying.

If you or someone you know exhibits signs of suicidal tendencies, seek immediate treatment. Resources are available as well through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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