Suicidal Behaviour and Self-Injury

Suicidal behaviour includes completed suicide and attempted suicide.

Thoughts and plans about suicide are called suicide ideation.

  • Suicide usually results from the interaction of many factors, usually including depression.
  • Some methods, such as guns, are more likely to result in death, but choice of a less lethal method does not necessarily mean that the intent was less serious.
  • Any suicide threat or suicide attempt must be taken seriously, and help and support should be provided.
  • A telephone hotline is available for individuals who are considering suicide.

See also Suicidal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents.

Suicidal behaviour includes the following:

  • Completed suicide:
    • An intentional act of self-harm that results in death.
  • Attempted suicide:
    • An act of self-harm that is intended to result in death but does not.
    • A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury.

Non-suicidal self-injury is an act of self-harm that is not intended to result in death. Such acts include inflicting scratches on the arms, burning oneself with a cigarette, and overdosing on vitamins.

Non-suicidal self-injury may be a way to reduce tension or may be a plea for help from people who still wish to live. These acts should not be dismissed lightly.

Information about the frequency of suicide comes mainly from death certificates and inquest reports and probably underestimates the true rate.

Even so, suicidal behaviour is an all-too-common health problem. Suicidal behaviour occurs in men and women of all ages, races, creeds, incomes, educational levels, and sexual orientations. There is no typical suicide profile.

Completed Suicide Worldwide

Worldwide, almost 800,000 people die by suicide every year.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29 years.

Evidence suggests that for each individual who dies by suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide.

This ratio varies widely by country, region, sex, age, and method.

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