Do You Know the Risk Factors for Suicide?

Is Suicide Predictable?

Unfortunately, not entirely. However there are many predictors and stats on who attempts/commits suicide. Knowing these factors will help increase your awareness when working with someone in your church or community.

What are the Prominent Risk Factors?

Remember that Suicidal people are often S.A.D. P.E.R.S.O.N.S

Keep in mind this acronym and it may help you spot a suicidal individual. The following words spell out this acronym and may help you step up and intervene at the right time. (or you jump the gun and talk to someone who just needs a friend.) Nobody wants to be late in this type of intervention…



Female Teens are MUCH more likely to attempt suicide (they choose the least violent methods).

Male Teens are 4 times more likely to commit suicide (they utilize the most violent methods).

FYI. Elderly Men are the second most likely group behind teens/young adults.



Teens are in the highest risk category (along with older men). So keep this on your radar. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.



Being down, is not the same as being depressed. Depression includes many other symptoms among the more common ones (Besides being “down” ) are:

Global Insomnia (can’t sleep)

Severe Anhedonia (don’t care) (Watch out for giving away ‘prized possessions.’

Severe Anxiety


Panic Attacks


Previous attempt

54 % of teens who attempt suicide have attempted suicide at least once before


Ethanol (alcohol) abuse (recent) + other drugs

Ethanol (ETOH or Alcohol) abuse along with Drug abuse decrease inhibitions and increase risk taking behaviors. Teens under the influence will impulsively act on a suicidal urge and due to their disinhibited state will go farther and be more risky than sober teens.


Rational Thought Loss

If the Teenager cannot reality check on their feelings and put their lives into context they are at an increased risk for acting on the suicidal impulse. If they truly believe that because ‘its the end of the world because Johnny broke up with them.’ this should spike your ears, follow up and stay with this person. (TIME IS YOUR FRIEND).


Social Supports Lacking

Lack of social support leads to greater isolation. Isolation can increase depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. So a teen that not only drops off of your radar, but off of the radar of those people he/she normally hangs out with. Needs to be followed up with for more reasons than the YP or small group leader trying to pad their numbers.


Organized Plan

The more organized the plan the more dangerous the threat is. If you can glean this information (often with direct questions), it will tell you the severity of the threat.


The closer the time planned the more dangerous


The more lethal the method the more dangerous


The more accessible the plan increases the danger


How willing are they to follow through?


No Spouse

Spousal Support is a major factor in decreasing the threat. Not many adolescents/young adults have a spouse or a strong significant other than can give them hope, a reason to go on for one more day (Hour, Minute, Second…). Not being married is a significant threat, increasing the odds of people committing suicide from 8.2 to 12.8 per 100,000 into their late 20’s.



Illness of temporary or long term effects Suicidal ideation. Chronic or Terminal Illnesses have greatest impact, they want to end the suffering.. But “lesser” illnesses often can push the depressed individual over the edge as they see less hope in recovery or a meaningful life because of the smaller illness.

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