Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers, and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans.
39,518 Americans took their lives in 2011, the most recent year for which full data are available. Suicide accounted for 12 deaths for every 100,000 people nationwide, making it the country’s 10th leading cause of death. Unlike many other leading causes of death, suicide continues to claim more lives each year.
Uncovering the reason for an individual suicide death is complex and challenging. What we know from research is that 90% of people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of their death—a disorder that often has gone unrecognized and untreated.
Suicide rates vary significantly among demographic groups and in different geographic regions. This reflects the many individual, interpersonal, and environmental factors that increase vulnerability to suicide. A variety of factors also contribute to strengthening resilience.
Non-fatal suicidal behavior further swells the emotional and economic costs associated with suicide. An estimated 1 million suicide attempts occur each year, many requiring medical attention.
At the heart of our mission at AFSP is the quest to better understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives.