Wednesday July 11, 2012
Suicide is tragic. It cuts a life short, and it devastates the
family, friends and loved ones left behind. Those who survive a
suicide attempt might end up with severe disability or other
injuries. The children of people who die by suicide are more likely
to later die by suicide themselves. With such extreme consequences,
why would anyone make the dire decision to choose death over
That's a question scientists have been struggling to answer for
decades. "When you're in a suicidal state, you're kind of closing
down your options. You see it as the only solution. You're not
really able to entertain other ideas," says Dr. Jane Pearson, who
heads a suicide research consortium at NIH. "What's the science
behind that? What's happening in the brain that leads people to
think so dysfunctionally?"
Recognizing those at risk is essential. Suicide is the
10th leading cause of death nationwide, and it's the 3rd leading
cause of death among adolescents. Nearly 37,000 Americans died by
suicide in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. More than half of those deaths were from
People of all genders, ages and ethnicities are at risk for
suicide. Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, but men
are more likely to die by suicide. That's because men often choose
deadlier methods, such as firearms or suffocation.
"The highest risk groups are older men," says Pearson.
"In fact, white men who are 85 and older have a rate of suicide
that's 4 times the national average."
To read the entire NIH report in this