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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Suicide
      Category : Health Centers > Mental Health (Mental Disorders)


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Suicide is the act of taking one's own life on purpose. Suicidal behavior can range from thoughts of killing oneself to actually going through with the act.

What is going on in the body?

An individual who thinks or talks about suicide is considering ending his or her life. In some cases, thoughts of suicide are never acted upon. In other cases, suicidal thoughts lead to an attempt at ending one's life.

People who are more prone to commit suicide are:

  • white men
  • 15 to 24 years old or over 65 years old
  • living alone or have no children under age 18 living in the house
  • suffering from major life stress such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or a divorce
  • Eighty percent of completed suicides are men. However, most people who try to commit suicide but don't actually die are women between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among children 10 to 19 years old.

    What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    Risks for suicide vary greatly. A mental disorder such as severe depression or alcoholism is a common risk factor.

    Other risk factors include:

  • previous suicide attempts or a family history of suicide attempts
  • history of psychiatric disorders. This can include including major depression, alcohol or drug abuse, schizophrenia, panic disorders, and borderline personality disorder.
  • antisocial, aggressive or impulsive behavior in teenagers
  • serious medical illness, such as cancer, accompanied by psychiatric illness
  • A combination of biological, emotional, intellectual and social factors play a part in suicide risk. Factors that may contribute to teenage suicidal risk include:

  • sadness
  • stress
  • poor school performance
  • peer pressure
  • grief
  • learning disabilities
  • illness or physical disabilities
  • desire to be perfect
  • lack of friends
  • questions about sexual identity
  • feelings of being disliked


    Next section


    Suicide: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 07/02/01

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