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Defining Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and a major public health concern. Community efforts to prevent suicide can be strengthen by developing a shared understanding of the problem.

Suicide is when people direct violence at themselves with the intent of ending their lives, and they die as a result of their action. A suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the intent to die, but their actions do not result in death.

Using consistent definitions and having a common understanding about suicide help us to track trends and recognize the individuals and settings at higher risk for suicide. We can then use this knowledge to help prevent suicide, before it happens.

To find out more about suicide, CDC’s standard definition and the benefits of consistent terminology, please visit their Division of Violence Prevention website.