Why Do People Commit Suicide? Risk Factors, Signs, and More

Wondering why do people commit suicide? It’s crucial to understand that various factors often come together to drive someone to make that decision. Continue reading more to learn the most common risk factors and how to help.

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

Understanding why someone dies by suicide can be challenging. There might not have been obvious signs, especially if the person was close to you. If you’re asking, “Why do people want to commit suicide?” It’s important to understand that multiple factors typically contribute to their decision. Let’s look at the most common reasons why people commit suicide.

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✅ If you’re facing mental health distress or concerned about a loved one needing crisis support, urgently reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  Call or text 988. You can also chat at 988lifeline.org

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The Possible Reasons Why Do Most People Commit Suicide

Suicide is when someone intentionally harms themselves to end their life. The reasons behind such attempts are diverse and intricate, often linked to intense emotional or physical pain that becomes overwhelming.

The following are the top reasons for the people who commit suicide. The perspectives are from survivors, experts, and those directly affected. 

Mental Health Disorders

Severe depression is a leading factor in many suicides. It brings intense emotional pain and a sense of hopelessness, making it hard for people to see alternatives to ending their lives.

Studies show that about 31% of those with major depressive disorder have attempted suicide at some point.

Other mental illnesses that can increase the risk of suicide:

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Substance abuse disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders.

Traumatic Stress

People who have experienced trauma, like childhood sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, or war trauma, face a higher risk of suicide, even years later.

Men, in particular, are at an increased risk after a traumatic life event. The risk is even higher for those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or those who endure multiple traumas.

This is partly because depression often follows trauma and PTSD, creating feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that may lead to suicide.

Alcohol, Substance Use, and Impulsivity

Substances like drugs and alcohol can heighten suicidal feelings, increasing impulsiveness and the likelihood of acting on those urges. Issues related to substance use, such as job or relationship loss, can influence someone’s decision to end their life.

Moreover, people with depression and other psychological disorders often have higher rates of substance use and alcohol-related problems, adding to the overall risk.

Loss or Fear of Loss

Facing a loss or the fear of losing something can lead a person to decide to take their own life.

Examples of situations involving loss or the fear of loss that might contribute to someone considering suicide include:

  • Grief: Losing a loved one through death.
  • Relationship Breakup: Experiencing the end of a significant relationship.
  • Job Loss: Losing employment and financial stability.
  • Health Crisis: Dealing with a severe illness or disability.
  • Financial Struggles: Facing overwhelming debt or economic hardship.
  • Social Rejection: Feeling isolated and rejected by friends or community.
  • Legal Issues: Coping with legal troubles or incarceration.
  • Loss of Identity: Losing a sense of self or purpose in life.

The Feeling of Hopelessness

Hopelessness, whether temporary or long-term attribute, is linked to thoughts of suicide in various studies. The more intense the feeling of hopelessness, the more serious the attempt may be.

When someone loses all hope and believes they can’t change their situation, it can overshadow the positive aspects of their life, making suicide appear as a valid option. Even if an outsider sees potential for improvement, individuals with depression may struggle to recognize it due to the pessimism and despair that often accompany the illness.

Chronic Physical Pain and Illness

If someone is dealing with ongoing pain or illness without hope for a cure, suicide might seem like a way to regain control and dignity. In certain states, assisted suicide has been allowed for this reason.

It’s essential to approach this issue with sensitivity, as suicide is a complex problem with various contributing factors. While certain physical illnesses may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, these conditions alone don’t determine suicidal tendencies.

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine identified the following health conditions as linked to a higher risk of suicide:

  • Chronic Pain Conditions: Such as fibromyalgia or severe arthritis.
  • Neurological Disorders: Such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Terminal Illnesses: Certain forms of cancer with poor prognoses.
  • Chronic Respiratory Diseases, Such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • HIV/AIDS: Dealing with the long-term implications of the disease.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Especially if it leads to long-term consequences.
  • Other Common Illnesses Linked to Suicide: Some people with high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, or migraine experience suicidal thoughts.

Chronic pain often leads to anxiety and depression, heightening the risk of suicide. Research indicates that over half of individuals dealing with chronic pain also experience significant symptoms of depression and anxiety.

It’s crucial for individuals facing such challenges to seek support from mental health professionals, friends, and family.

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Other Causes Why People Committed Suicide

Chronic pain or terminal illness can make someone feel like a burden to others. They may worry about creating difficulties for loved ones by needing help with various tasks or expenses. This feeling often leads to thoughts like “the world would be better without me,” a common factor in suicidal behavior according to the interpersonal theory of suicide.

Other reasons why people commit suicide include the following:

Social Isolation

Various reasons, like losing relationships, separation, illness, or moving, can lead to social isolation. This isolation, linked to factors like low self-esteem, is a significant risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It can also contribute to other risk factors, such as loneliness, depression, and substance misuse.

Cry for Help

Some individuals attempt suicide not necessarily because they want to die but because they struggle to seek help. When the act mimics suicide without the true intention of ending life, it’s called parasuicide. In these cases, suicide attempts become a way to show the world the extent of their pain.

Unfortunately, these cries for help can turn fatal if the chosen method’s lethality is underestimated. Those who survive a failed attempt are at a higher risk of trying again, and subsequent attempts are more likely to be lethal.

Unintentional Suicide

Certain situations that seem like suicide may be accidental deaths. Risky trends like the choking game or autoerotic asphyxiation involve suffocation and can be mistakenly perceived as intentional. Unintentional overdoses, firearm incidents, and poisonings can also result in accidental suicides.

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What are the Signs of Suicide to Watch Out for?

Not everyone shows these signs when thinking about suicide, so the surest way to know is to have a conversation with them.

Having suicidal thoughts doesn’t always lead to action. Around 1 in 5 people may think about suicide, often due to temporary feelings. However, if someone has suicidal intent, it means they’ve decided to act on these thoughts, requiring immediate help.

Why do people commit suicide? Suicide may result from various factors like mental health issues, hopelessness, and, at times, addiction, which can worsen feelings of despair and a sense of being trapped.
Why do people commit suicide? Suicide may result from various factors like mental health issues, hopelessness, and, at times, addiction, which can worsen feelings of despair and a sense of being trapped.

These are the most common signs that someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts:

  • Talking About Suicide.
  • Isolation.
  • Drastic Mood Swings.
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns.
  • Giving Away Possessions.
  • Expressing Hopelessness.
  • Increased Substance Use.
  • Sudden Calmness.
  • Risky Behavior.
  • Sudden Improvement After Depression.
  • Social Media Posts.
  • Neglecting Personal Well-being.
  • Saying Goodbye.
  • Difficulty Concentrating.
  • Changes in Appetite.
  • Impulsive Behavior.
  • Lack of Interest.
  • Physical Ailments.
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns.
  • Seeking Means to Harm Oneself.

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Tips to Help Someone Who’s Considering Suicide

Supporting someone who is contemplating suicide requires sensitivity, empathy, and a commitment to their well-being. Here are four essential tips:

  • Initiate a Caring Conversation: Starting the conversation is a crucial step. Approach the individual with compassion and express genuine concern. Choose a quiet and private setting, and use open-ended questions to encourage them to share their feelings. Avoid making assumptions or judgments. For instance, say, “I’ve noticed you’ve been going through a tough time, and I care about you. Can we talk about what you’re feeling?” Showing you are available and non-judgmental creates a space for them to open up.
  • Listen Actively and Without Judgment: Actively listening is a powerful way to support someone in crisis. Provide them your full attention, maintain eye contact, and offer verbal and non-verbal cues to show you are engaged. Avoid interrupting or rushing the conversation. Let them express their emotions without fear of criticism.
  • Encourage Professional Help: While your support is valuable, encouraging the person to seek professional assistance is crucial. Suggest contacting mental health professionals, therapists, or crisis helplines. Offer to assist in finding appropriate resources. Say, “Speaking to a professional can provide the support and guidance you need. I can help you find someone to talk to.” Professional help ensures they receive expert guidance tailored to their specific needs.
  • Stay Connected and Follow Up: Maintaining a connection is vital for ongoing support. Regularly check in on their health, demonstrating your continued concern. Consistent follow-ups reinforce the message that they are not alone and that you are committed to supporting them through their struggles.

If the person is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to seek emergency assistance by calling local emergency services or a crisis hotline.

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Inpatient Mental Health Treatment for Suicidal Thoughts

We Level Up Florida provides thorough mental health treatment using various therapies for conditions like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Our personalized approach may include counseling, psychotherapy, holistic practices, or support groups.

Inpatient care is crucial for preventing suicide, offering a structured and closely monitored environment with 24/7 support from trained professionals.

If mental health challenges, stress, or thoughts of suicide are affecting you or someone you care about, We Level Up Florida Mental Health Treatment Center is here for you. Our dedicated professionals provide personalized care to help you improve your mental health.

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Search We Level Up FL Why Do People Commit Suicide? Mental Health Topics & Resources
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  2. Bader S, Abbes W, Tfifha M, Dhemaid M, Mahdhaoui W, Ghanmi L. Warning signs of suicide attempts and risk of suicidal recurrence. Eur Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 13;64(Suppl 1):S589. Doi: 10.1192/j.eurpsy.2021.1571. PMCID: PMC9480028. Warning Signs For Suicide and Protective Factors
  3. Warning Signs of Suicide – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  4. Treatment for Suicidal Ideation, Self-Harm, and Suicide Attempts Among Youth – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Keywords: Warning Signs of Suicide, Signs of Suicidal Person, Signs Someone is Suicidal
  5. O’Rourke MC, Jamil RT, Siddiqui W. Suicide Screening and Prevention. [Updated 2023 Mar 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531453/
  6. Mann JJ, Michel CA, Auerbach RP. Improving Suicide Prevention Through Evidence-Based Strategies: A Systematic Review. Am J Psychiatry. 2021 Jul;178(7):611-624. Doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20060864. Epub 2021 Feb 18. PMID: 33596680; PMCID: PMC9092896. Learn more about Why People Commit Suicide.
  7. Why Do People Commit Suicide? Signs of Suicide Prevention – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Lifelines Suicide Prevention Program/ Hotline for Suicide Prevention
  8. Suicide Prevention – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  9. Facts About the Signs of Suicide – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  10. 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)