Suicide: Statistics, Risk factors, warning signs and Prevention

Suicide: Statistics, Risk factors, Warning Signs and Prevention

It’s not uncommon to go through periods of time where everything seems to be going wrong in life, leaving you feeling hopeless. When these thoughts start to take over, you may experience depression or suicidal thoughts. From an outside perspective, it can be challenging to understand how someone can get to such a dark place. Because many people don’t understand how these thoughts and feelings can affect someone, those experiencing suicidal thoughts are less likely to seek out help. 

By looking at the risk factors, warning signs, statistics and ways to reduce the pain, you’ll be able to approach the topic with more knowledge and understanding. 

Who’s At Risk? 

While anyone could find themselves experiencing suicidal thoughts at some point in the course of their lives, some people are more at risk than others. Higher risk individuals include people who

  • Are facing serious mental health or addiction problems 
  • Have a history of suicide within their family
  • Just experienced a major loss such as losing their job or the death of a family member 
  • Are dealing with a serious physical illness 
  • Don’t have much support from friends or family 
  • Have previously attempted suicide 
  • Are experiencing homelessness
  • Are male
  • Struggle with their sexual or cultural identity
  • Are dealing with trauma such as bullying, violence, childhood abuse, etc. 

What Do The Suicide Statistics Tell Us? 

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting everyone’s lives around the globe, it comes as no surprise that suicide rates have been increasing. While the pandemic may have sparked more suicides than usual, the numbers have risen by 20,000 people worldwide over the past 30 years

While the numbers appear to be going up, it’s important to keep factors such as age, income, race, gender and geographical location in mind. Over 700,000 people around the world take their own lives each year and 77% of global suicides happen in low and middle-income countries. This can be seen when looking at the ten countries with the highest suicide rates (per 100k people) in 2019:

  1. Lesotho - 72.4
  2. Guyana - 40.3 
  3. Eswatini - 29.4
  4. South Korea - 28.6 
  5. Kiribati - 28.3
  6. Federated States of Micronesia - 28.2 
  7. Lithuania - 26.1
  8. Suriname - 25.4 
  9. Russia - 25.1 
  10. South Africa - 23.5 

It’s also significant to note that statistically, more men die from suicide than women. There are 3.9 male deaths by suicide for every female, which could be due to many factors. Lastly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged between 15 to 24. 

What Are The Warning Signs?

Warning signs are the behaviours that indicate that a person may need urgent help. These behaviours may include:

    •   Increased use of alcohol and substances
    •   Talking about wanting to die or ending their life
    •   Sleeping too much or too little
    •   Social isolation and withdrawal
    •   Researching ways to die
    •   Talks of hopelessness and having no purpose
    • Talks of feeling like a burden to others
    •   Feelings of hopelessness and purposelessness
    •   Displays of extreme mood swings
    •   Reckless and impulsive behaviour like walking into oncoming traffic


How to Reduce the Pain 

Suicidal thoughts may occur when we experience intense pain with little coping mechanisms. They are an indication that you want the pain and difficulties in your life to end and not a sign to end your life. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the pain

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol - This may alleviate the pain in the short term but will only make you feel worse if you continue to use these substances.
  • Use a daily journal - A daily journal will help you track your feelings and make sense of what you’re experiencing. It may also be helpful to write a letter to yourself when you’re in a good mental state that you can read when you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts. 
  • Use positive self talk - Remind yourself that: this will pass; You can feel anxious, low and still make helpful decisions; the pain and suffering is temporary, you will get through this; thoughts are just thoughts and you don’t have to act on them.
  • Create a crisis/safety plan - This plan should include ways you can cope or self-soothe and affirmations to tell yourself when you’re in a dark place, as well as the name and number of someone to call. 
  • Find good distractions - Forcing yourself to get out of your room or house and doing something is a great way to reframe your state of mind. Put your focus of attention on something other than the thoughts. You can try going for a walk, do your gardening, play with your pet, watch TV, read a book, magazine or a blog, listen to music, do the house chores, play a game on your phone, write in your journal, cook a meal etc. 
  • Start a routine - Sticking to a routine that includes work, rest and play will help you get back to your old self. 
  • Look after your physical health - eat well, keep hydrated, take your medication, exercise regularly.
  • Maintain your relationships - If you haven’t talked to your friends or family in a while, now’s the time to call them and make plans to do something! It may also be helpful to work on repairing a relationship that isn’t on good terms. 
  • Seek professional help - The hardest part is accepting that you could use help and insight from an outside perspective. Once you take that step, you’re on your way to receiving the support you need. 
  • Do something about the problem - Reflect on what might be making you feel down; think of solutions to resolve the problem and write them down. Think about who you can contact to help you resolve the problem and contact them. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself, take it one step at a time and one day at a time.


Author: Antoinette


Great blog, the signs and suggestions are very useful. I like the tip of writing a letter to yourself when you are in a good mental state.


This piece is so interesting and I’m well enlightened. It’s imperative for me to be sensitive to people around me.

Victor Ndubuisi Ejim

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