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The Basics

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. For every suicide, many other individuals seriously think about or attempt suicide. The effects on individuals, families, and communities can be devastating and long lasting, but preventing suicide is possible.

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Risk Factors

Research shows that a combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide. For example, some risk factors include a family history of child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, physical and mental health conditions, and job, money, legal, or housing stress.

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Protective Factors

Research has identified factors that help protect individuals from suicidal thoughts and behaviors. For example, access to mental health, medical, and substance abuse care may lower the risk for suicide. Promoting safe, supportive environments among community, family, and peers can also serve as protective buffers.

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Suicide and suicide attempts take an enormous toll on society. The medical costs to help those affected by suicide, as well as the work loss costs, results in billions of dollars lost each year. Suicide also affects family, friends, and other members of the community.

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More information from CDC and credible sources can support your efforts to stop violence before it starts. Explore these resources to help start, guide, and strengthen your approach to improving the health and well-being of people and the community where they live.

* The titles of these documents changed in July 2023 to align with other Prevention Resources being developed by CDC's Injury Center. The original titles are noted in each document's suggested citation section.


Innovative and ongoing research gives the evidence and insight needed to prevent violence. Consult these trusted data sources to better assess how risk and protective factors influence people’s lives and impact where they live, work, and play.

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  • National Violent Death Reporting System

    CDC has funded 50 states and territories and established the National Violent Death Reporting System to link information about the “who, when, where, and how” from data on violent deaths and provides insights about “why” they occurred. This enables policy makers and community leaders to make informed decisions about violence prevention programs, including those that address sexual violence and intimate partner violence.

  • Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System

    The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults.

  • National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP)

    The NEISS-AIP provides data on injuries resulting from self-harm that are treated in emergency departments.


    Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) is an interactive database that provides national injury-related morbidity and mortality data.

Published Date: July 22, 2019; Last Reviewed: Sept 15, 2023

Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention