Understanding Suicidal Behavior
According to the CDC, suicide is death caused by oneself with the intent to die. Suicidal behavior includes:
- Suicidal ideation (thinking about ending one’s life)
- Suicide attempt (non-fatal suicidal behavior)
- Suicide (ending one’s life)
Suicide is a complex issue that is not caused by one single factor. Often when a death by suicide occurs the individual was experiencing many risk factors and/or life experiences that were potentially intersecting to create an uphill battle.
Who is At Risk
On average, there is one death by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States and every year there are 1.2 million suicide attempts.
Suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10-64 in the U.S. While anyone can die by suicide, there are some groups that are at higher risk.
Some of these groups include:
- Older adults
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community
- Tribal community members
- Individuals living in rural areas
Many factors can increase the risk for suicide or protect against it. Suicide is connected to other forms of injury and violence. For example, people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence have a higher suicide risk.
Learn more about risk and protective factors for suicide.
Warning Signs and Prevention
PDF Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention and help others in crisis. Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide. Signs can be physical, behavioral, and verbal and may include:
- Withdrawing from others and isolating
- Talking about death or killing themselves
- Expressing extreme rage or appearing to be agitated
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Giving away prized possessions or saying their goodbyes
If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
- How to talk and listen to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts
- Learning the myths and facts around suicide
- Understand what your role PDF looks like if a loved one is suicidal
Where to Seek Help
If you are having thoughts of suicide, experiencing substance use or mental health challenges, or are concerned about a loved one, immediate and confidential support is available.
The Arizona Crisis Response Network (CRN) has helped thousands of individuals and families statewide through their professionally-trained Crisis Intervention Specialists who are available 24/7 to listen and respond to your specific needs.
If your crisis can’t be solved over the phone, a specialist will connect you to local agencies that can help.
For immediate and confidential support call:
988 or 1-800-631-1314
Crisis Response Network is a division of Solari Crisis & Human Services.
For a comprehensive list of mental health and substance use resources, go here.
Suicide Mortality Review
In March 2020, legislation established the state Suicide Mortality Review (SMR) Team in the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 36-199. This team is charged with developing a data collection system in order to conduct an annual analysis on the incidences and causes of suicides in the state.
To support this work, in July 2021 ADHS provided funding to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) and other local health departments to assist with the formation of local multi-disciplinary suicide mortality review teams to better understand and address county-level needs. During the first year, MCDPH hired staff, recruited members, and built the infrastructure to support a MCDPH Suicide Mortality Review Board (SMRB) with a planned launch in July 2022.
The Maricopa County Suicide Mortality Review Board (SMRB) consists of members from across the county, including medical professionals, faith community leaders, emergency service responders, and many more, who will come together to review suicide cases from the community. The board will investigate how decedents interacted with systems and services within Maricopa County and make data-driven recommendations for system-level changes to prevent future suicide deaths. Reviews will focus on people over the age of 18 who died by suicide as those under the age of 18 are reviewed by the Maricopa County Child Fatality Review team.
MCDPH’s SMRB will meet quarterly and will produce an annual report that details recommendations based on its findings. Any published reports will be made available on this webpage as they come available.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Research, Publications
- Changes in Suicide Rates – United States, 2019 and 2022 (CDC)
- National Violent Death Reporting System (CDC)
Suicide Education and Prevention Coordinator