What are the Risk Factors of Suicide?

The impact of suicide on families, schools, and the larger community is especially profound in Vermont’s small, rural communities. It is important that people see suicide as a public health issue, and learn about the role they can play in identifying individuals who may be at risk and getting them the help and support they need. The risk factors for suicide coincide with the risk factors for other mental health conditions, substance abuse, and violent behavior.

Everything we do is done to meet a need. If we are not successful, we may become frustrated to the point of choosing dangerous or self-destructive behavior to try and get what we need. How might the following situations affect a person’s ability to meet their needs and their subsequent level of resilience? How might someone’s resilience be affected if several risk factors are experienced over a short period of time?

  • Violence at home, school, or work
  • Family history of suicide
  • Divorce of parents/partner
  • Lack of life skills
  • Poor health mentally or physically
  • Academic failure
  • Bullying or being bullied at school or work
  • Moving to a new community
  • Homelessness
  • Natural disaster
  • Incarceration
  • Poverty
  • Verbal, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Easy access to a firearm Harsh or inconsistent discipline styles
  • Loss of a loved one or a significant relationship
  • One or more prior suicide attempts
  • Rejection by peers
  • Suicide cluster in the community
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of support services
  • Unrealistic expectations of oneself or inability to accept failure
  • Harassment due to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity