Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine; DOI: 10.1177/1559827614551130


U.S. Government Work


Suicide is a public health problem affecting people across the lifespan. It is currently the 10th leading cause of death, with rates having remained relatively flat for the past century. This article summarizes the problem of suicide and suicidal behavior along with suicide prevention efforts in the United States. Part 1 provides an overview of the epidemiology of suicide, including groups most at risk of suicide and suicidal behavior. Part 2 provides a review of common risk factors, organized by developmental life stage. A brief discussion of the lesser well-researched area of protective factors follows. Part 3 provides an overview of suicide prevention today, including the major types of prevention strategies, their successes, including means restriction, quality improvement in behavioral services, and comprehensive programs; and limitations to date, such as a lack of evidence for impact on actual deaths or behavior, small sample sizes, and low base rates. Finally, part 4 discusses challenges and future directions with an eye toward the great many opportunities that exist for prevention.