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The 4 factors that increase the risk of suicide

The 4 factors that increase the risk of suicide

February 2, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) affirms that suicide and its attempts are one of the most serious health problems we face in the 21st century. In Spain, an average of 10 people commit suicide a day , being the first cause of death among young males of 15 to 29 years. Suicides double the number of fatalities due to traffic accidents (in 2015 there were 3,602 suicides in Spain).

We see many campaigns by the Government to control and reduce the number of victims behind the wheel, but how many times do people appear in the media who have deliberately decided to take their own lives? It seems that denying the existence of the problem is not a good strategy. That is why it is necessary to know the factors that increase the risk of suicide .


  • Related article: "Suicidal thoughts: causes, symptoms and therapy"

Factors that increase the risk of suicide

According to the APA (2003), 13.5% of the general American population has had suicidal ideation at some point in their lives. Completed suicides are more frequent in men, but suicide attempts are more common among women (APA, 2003).

But how can we be able to reduce the number of people who commit suicide? Is there any way to prevent it? There have been many studies in this line, in order to identify through the scientific method which are the risk factors that determine a greater probability of consummating suicide. These risk factors normally have an additive effect, although they sometimes interact synergistically.


We are going to divide the risk factors into four subgroups: psychiatric disorders, previous attempts, genetic factors and other factors .

1. Psychiatric disorders

Within the group of people who commit suicide, 80-85% have depression, substance abuse or schizophrenia. In addition, mental disorders are associated with more than 90% of completed suicide cases. Some psychiatric disorders they are associated with an increased risk of suicide . They stand out from them:

1. 1. Depression

People who have major depression have a 20 times higher probability of suicide risk compared to the general population. Within this population it has been seen that people with severe anhedonia, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive personality traits and with high hopelessness they have a greater risk of killing themselves.


  • Related article: "Major depression: symptoms, causes and treatment"

1.2. Substance abuse or dependence

There is a risk of suicide 15 times higher. In this group those people who have also suffered a love break recently they have a higher risk, together with the presence of associated depressive symptomatology.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The 8 signs of alcohol addiction"

1.3. Schizophrenia

Within this group they present a probability up to 9 times greater than ending your own life . If the person with schizophrenia also has depression, obsessive-compulsive traits and shows a negative attitude towards the treatment, the risk increases.

  • You may be interested: "The 6 types of schizophrenia and associated characteristics"

1.4. Bipolar disorder

Those who have been diagnosed with this disorder have a 15 times greater risk of suicide compared to the general population.

1.5. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

It has been seen that those people with PTSD who have intense feelings of guilt they are more likely to be suicidal.

1.6. Limit Personality Disorder

They have a suicide risk of 4-8 times higher than the general population. The impulsiveness that characterizes this group of people can increase the suicidal risk .

  • Related article: "Personality Limit Disorder (BPD): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment"

1.7. Antisocial behavior

In these cases if they are associated with substance abuse and present some affective disorder (bad affective regulation), it is more risky that they may commit suicide.

It should be noted that the risk of suicide increases even more if there is comorbidity between two disorders of the aforementioned . For example, there would be a very high risk if a person with schizophrenia were going through a major depression.

2. Previous attempts

The most potent suicide risk factor of all are the previous attempts made by the person. The more times you have tried, the more likely it is that in the future you can try again . In addition, the risk is greater if a series of additional variables are taken into account (APA, 2003):

  • If the previous attempts have been serious.
  • If there has been an intense desire to die .
  • If the person has tried to avoid being discovered (p.eg, making sure that at that time nobody was going to get home).
  • If especially lethal methods have been used that caused considerable physical damage.

3. Genetic factors

In some studies it has been seen that there seems to be a genetic factor for suicide, although much remains to be investigated in this area. Exists greater concordance for suicide and suicide attempts among univitelline twins .

In addition, it seems that there is a greater risk of suicide among biological relatives than in families with adopted children who show suicidal behavior. It is very important for the health professional to carefully evaluate the family psychiatric history.

4. Other associated factors

Some elements that increase the risk of suicide are:

  • Be single or divorced .
  • Loss of work and be over 50 years.
  • Have few economic resources.
  • Low educational level .
  • Homosexual or bisexual orientation.
  • Suffer gender violence.
  • Immigration with uprooting .
  • Little social support and social isolation.

The need to take preventive measures

It is necessary Social awareness about the risk of suicide to be able to respond: more training in detection and prevention of suicide, more professionals specialized in the subject, and more awareness talks for all ages. In this sense, the main objective should be to detect this danger in time and provide those people with the psychological attention they require.

It is said that suicide is an eternal solution for what is often only a temporary problem. The suicide can be presented as a permanent solution to intense pain , to a suffering that seems endless.

In fact, people who want to commit suicide do not think about dying without more, but to escape the intense suffering that they believe will endure forever, and contemplate suicide as the only way to stop suffering. But even if it does not seem so, despair, pain and emptiness are temporary, not permanent states .

If you have read this article and you know someone who may have suicidal ideation, try to approach that person from empathy and offer support, it can be a great change for that person.


Measuring Warning Signs of Suicide (February 2023).


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