Suicide Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics of a person or their environment that increase the likelihood that they will have or act on suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a complex issue, and people with suicidal thoughts usually have multiple risk factors.

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General risk factors

  • Society’s attitudes and values regarding the acceptability of suicide
  • The stigma associated with seeking help
  • Access to the means to carry out suicide
  • Inadequate media coverage or inappropriate use of social media to talk about suicide
  • Barriers to care
  • Natural disasters, war, conflicts
  • Trauma or abuse
  • Discrimination
  • Stress caused by acculturation and immigration
  • Interpersonal violence, contentious relationships, conflicts, and loss
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Feelings of isolation, lack of social support
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Mental health issues
  • Lack of information about available help and how to respond to people with suicidal thoughts
  • Harmful use of alcohol and other psychoactive substances
  • Job loss or financial hardship
  • Despair
  • Chronic pain
  • Family history of suicide
  • Genetic and biological factors

Risk factors for specific population segments

All of the general factors also apply to the population segments mentioned below. The following are additional risk factors for certain categories of people.



Youth (ages 14–18)


People with alcohol or drug addiction issues


Agricultural communities


Members of the LGBTQ+ community

  • Recent disclosure of sexual orientation
  • Discrimination
  • Bullying, harassment, or physical violence
  • Family rejection
  • HIV-positive status
  • Discomfort or distress with the gender assigned at birth
  • Lack of medical follow-up while transitioning