Risk Factors

The following are risk factors associated (by empiral study) with an increased occurance of suicidal behavior.  However this list is not considered to be prioritized nor exhaustive.


  • Mental disorders:
    • Depression
    • Schizophrenia
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • ”States of Mind:”
    • Hopelessness
    • Impulsivity
    • Low self-esteem
    • Psychic pain
  • Behaviors:
    • Social withdrawal
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Aggressive tendencies or history of violent behavior
    • Previous suicide attempt
  • Gender:
    • Male (for completions)
    • Female (for attempts)
  • Older age
  • Race
    • White
    • Native American
  • History:
    • Previous psychiatric treatment
    • History of trauma or abuse
  • Suicide ideation
  • Physical
    • Low CSF 5-HIAA
    • Low cholesterol blood levels
    • Low blood glucose
  • Access to means (e.g., firearms, poisons)


  • History of interpersonal violence, conflict, abuse, bullying
  • Family history of alcoholism
  • Social isolation: low or lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior: family history of suicide
  • Exposure to suicide
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior
  • Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health services and substance abuse treatment
  • No-longer married
  • Loss of close attachment relationship (e.g., divorce, death of spouse)
  • Access to means (e.g., firearms, poisons)


  • Access to lethal means: (e.g., bridges)
  • Unemployment or financial loss
  • Relational or social loss/humiliation
  • Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence
  • Barriers to health care and mental health care
  • Stigma
  • Exposure to suicide (e.g., media or memorials)


  • Certain Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Societal breakdown
  • Western geography
  • Rural/Remote
  • Cultural values and attitudes Media influence
  • Alcohol misuse and abuse
  • Economic instability

Source: Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Strategic Planning for Suicide Prevention: Core Community Competencies Workshop, Resource Sheet 1-1.

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