Risk factors for suicide have been investigated at the population and individual levels; in addition, predisposing factors and precipitating events have been examined, mainly at the individual level. Each of these factors can be mediated through genetic, psychological, and personality characteristics, making most explanatory models complex and difficult to interpret. One approach to understanding suicide has been life-course analysis, which is based on the premise that risk factors come into play at different stages of life and that suicide is the cumulative result of risk factors over a lifetime.
Risk Factors for Suicide
|Risk Factor||Strength of Association
|Drug and alcohol misuse||Strong|
|Access to lethal means (farmers, nurses, veterinarians, physicians, and police)||Moderate|
|Life events (relationship difficulties (particularly separation or divorce), death of a partner, and death by suicide of someone close, in particular, for mothers, death by suicide of adult children)||Moderate|
|New diagnosis of terminal or chronic physical illness (particularly in the first week after a diagnosis of cancer)||Moderate|
|Neuropsychiatric disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, substance use disorders, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury)||Strong|
|Family history of suicidal behavior||Strong|
|Previous suicide attempt||Moderate|
|Adverse childhood experiences (childhood sexual abuse)||Moderate|
- Fazel S, Runeson B. Suicide. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(3):266–274. [Medline]
- Bachmann S. Epidemiology of Suicide and the Psychiatric Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(7):1425. [Medline]
Created Feb 05, 2020.