Pacific Northwest Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Do you need help right now? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.

The Pacific Northwest Suicide Resource Center provides youth, educators, parents, and researchers with the vital information they need to end suicide in the State of Washington. This website is a living document – as new research, knowledge, and best practices become available, you will find them here. #EndSuicideWA

Key Facts:

  • More than 1,000 Washington residents die by suicide every year.
  • 20 percent of tenth grade students in Washington have seriously considered suicide.
  • For every person who dies by suicide in the U.S., 60 will survive a suicide attempt.
  • Suicide can be prevented.

Suicide Statistics

King County

Suicide Rate = 12.84/100,00

  • In a study of King County firearm suicides and suicide attempts, 65 percent of children and adolescents used weapons stored in their home.
  • The King County suicide rate has increased by about 18 percent in the last decade.
  • Firearm injury is the leading cause of suicide death in King County.
  • Seattle-Tacoma has the second highest suicide attempt rate out of the 33 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Washington State

Suicide Rate = 15.78/100,00

  • Suicide is the #2 cause of death for 10-24-year-olds.
  • Firearms were the leading method of suicide for both males and females.
  • In 2014, 1,111 Washington residents died by suicide.
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives die by suicide at a higher rate than every other ethnic and racial group.
  • From 2012-2015, 77 percent of suicide deaths were males.

United States

Suicide Rate = 13.0/100,00

  • One person dies of suicide every 12.3 minutes.
  • Suicide is the #10 leading cause of death overall.
  • Females attempt suicide three times as often as males, though males die by suicide at four times the rate of females.
  • Despite having a much lower suicide rate overall, the firearm suicide rate in the U.S. is six times that of other high-income countries.

Recognize the signs. Know what to do.

Risk Factors

  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Stressful live events such as loss of job, death in family, or relationship problems
  • Prolonged stress factors such as harassment, bullying, or unemployment
  • Access to firearms, drugs or other lethal means
  • Family history of suicide
  • Chronic health conditions/pain

Warning Signs

  • Giving away of personal items or saying goodbye to others
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Talking or writing about suicide or death
  • Getting affairs in order (paying debt, changing wills)
  • Depressed, sadness, loss of interest
  • Desperate comments about being a burden, feeling trapped, no reason to live
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Self-harm behaviors (eg, cutting, risky behaviors)
  • Newly attained weapon or medication
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Moods of irritability, anxiousness, anger and/or humiliation.

What You Can Do

  • If someone talks about or exhibits behaviors that make you suspect the person is suicidal, follow these steps.
  • Take it seriously.
  • Talk to the person. Listen and show compassion. “I know you’ve had a hard time lately, how are you holding up?”
  • Ask, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”.
  • If you feel the person is suicidal, do not leave them alone. Remove all possible lethal means from the area (including firearms and medications).
  • Refer the person to help (National suicide support: www.SuicidePreventionLifeline.org; Seattle-King County: www.CrisisClinic.org)
  • Get help: If they don’t or can’t contact someone, do it for them.

Additional Resources

Why should we focus on firearm-related suicide?

  • 90 percent of firearm-related suicide attempts end in death.
  • 5 percent of all other attempts are fatal.
  • 90 percent of adolescents that survive a suicide attempt do not make another attempt.

A study of adolescent firearm-related suicides found that over half were carried out with guns from the adolescent’s home. When accounting for the homes of friends and relatives this number is 75 percent.

An estimated 36 percent of adults in Washington state have a gun in or around their home. Of those, more than half (51 percent) or about 971,000 report having an unlocked firearm.

Firearms in the home = higher risk for suicide.
Levels of gun ownership are highly correlated with suicide rates across all age groups.

If you own a firearm and someone in your household is suicidal, the safest thing to do is remove it. If that’s not an option:

  • Store the unloaded firearm in a locked position.
  • ALWAYS use a safe, lock-box, trigger lock or cable lock.
  • Store the ammunition in a different, secure/locked location.
  • If you think someone is suicidal, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) and remove the firearm from the property.
Washington Firearm Safe Storage Map

The interactive Washington Firearm Safe Storage Map offers contact information for businesses and law enforcement offices willing to offer temporary firearm storage.

Temporarily removing firearms from a home with someone in crisis can save lives.

Youth and Suicide

  • Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15–24.
  • 18 percent of Washington 10th graders report they considered attempting suicide in the past year, 12 percent report having a plan for a suicide attempt, and 7 percent report attempting suicide.
  • An average of 2.6 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 kill themselves each week in Washington State. An average of 17 adolescents are admitted to the hospital with non-fatal suicidal behavior.
  • More than 50 percent of adolescent suicides were carried out with guns from the victim’s home. Always lock up firearms.

Resources for youth, educators and parents.

  • Forefront is changing the way we talk – and what we do – about suicide in Washington, particularly on campuses and in K-12 schools.
  • Youth Suicide Prevention Program – Tools, curriculum ,training, information, and data for youth, parents, LGBTQ, and teachers.
  • The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Helping children understand trauma.
  • The Jed Foundation – Suicide prevention resources for college and university campuses, including campus faculty and staff, students and parents.

American Indians and Alaska Natives

  • In 2015, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 10-34.
  • Native youth have the highest suicide rate of any group in the United States. Among young people age 15-24, the suicide rate in 2015 was 60 percent higher than the national rate.

American Indian & Alaska Native Resources & Research

In addition to the suicide risk factors that face most young Americans, American Indian/Alaska Native youth have layers of risk that increase their susceptibility to suicidal thoughts. According to the Indian Health Service, they may feel cut off from other people, or isolated on reservations, perceive or suffer discrimination, or be burdened by historical trauma shared by earlier generations related to experiences of colonialism, wars, dislocation from land, and separation from family by Indian boarding schools.

Relative to the tremendous toll suicide takes on American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, there is a substantial deficit in research. If you have data or resources you would like us to add, please let us know.

Veterans

  • An estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide every day.
  • Since 9/11, more than 3,300 active duty service members have died by suicide. Since 2012, more soldiers have died by suicide than in combat.
  • Every month, nearly 1,000 veterans attempt suicide.
  • Veterans are far more likely to die by suicide using a firearm than their civilian counterparts.
  • Veterans comprised 23 percent of all deaths by suicide in Washington between the years of 2010-2012, even though they represent only 8.5 percent of the general population.

Photo by Israsel Palacio

Veteran Resources & Research

Veterans and active duty soldiers face unique circumstances. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, emotional and mental health crises are heightened for men and women who serve or have served in the military. Studies found this to be particularly true in the three years immediately following deployment. The VA says that these unique factors exacerbate crisis moments for veterans:

  • Frequent or prolonged deployments
  • Exposure to extreme stress
  • Physical/sexual assault while in the service (not limited to women)
  • Service-related injury

These resources will help you learn more about veterans and suicide. If you work for an organization that would like to have a resource added, please let us know.

  • VA Suicide Prevention Guide for Military and Veteran Families
  • VA Suicide Prevention Website
  • RAND Corporation Military and Veteran Suicide Research
  • Suicide among US veterans: A prospective study of 500,000 middle-aged and elderly men
  • Entire issue of American Journal of Public Health dedicated to veterans and suicide
  • Growing Veterans

LGBTQ+

In the past 12 months3

  • 60.4 percent of LGB youth felt hopeless or sad every day for 2+ weeks, compared to 26.4 percent of heterosexual youth
  • 42.8 percent of LGB youth seriously considered suicide, compared to 14.8 percent of heterosexual youth.
  • 38.2 percent of LGB youth made a suicide plan, compared to 11.9 percent of heterosexual youth.
  • 29.4 percent of LGB youth attempted suicide, compared to 6.4 percent of heterosexual youth.
  • 9.4 percent of LGB youth made a suicide attempt that required the attention of a medical professional, compared to 2 percent of heterosexual youth.

In a national study, 40 percent of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92 percent of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.4

LGBTQ+ Resources & Research

A study published in 2016 found that nearly one-third (29 percent) of LGB youth have attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6 percent of heterosexual youth.1 Members of the LGBTQ community experience risk factors shown to increase suicide rates, including societal stigma, threats of violence, institutional discrimination, cyberbullying and conflict with family or friends as a result of their sexual identity. According to The Trevor Project, each episode of victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.2

  • Trevor Project
  • LGBT national Youth Talk line
  • Family Acceptance Project
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center

References

  1. Kann L, Olsen EO, McManus T, et al. Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 – United States and Selected Sites, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ 2016; 65(9): 1-202.
  2. Mustanski BS, Garofalo R, Emerson EM. Mental Health Disorders, Psychological Distress, and Suicidality in a Diverse Sample of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youths. American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(12):2426-2432. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.178319
  3. American Association of Suicidology. n.d. “Suicidal Behavior among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth.”
  4. James SE, Herman JL, Rankin S, Keisling M, Mottet L, Anafi M. Executive Summary of the report of the 2015 US Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016

Suicide accounts for more deaths than homicide in the United States.

Suicides are preventable. Know the risk factors and warning signs so you can help.

While mental health problems are an important risk factor for suicide, they do not fully explain the differences in suicide between states and regions. Other factors, such as demographics and the prevalence of firearm ownership are important in explaining differences in suicide.

While suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults, the highest rate of suicide is in middle aged adults.

While females are more likely to attempt suicide; males, particularly white males, are more likely to die by suicide. 7 in 10 suicides in 2014 were white males.

A vast majority of individuals who attempt or commit suicide have risk factors or show warning signs ahead of time. Learning about those signs can help you save a life.

Studies have found that more than 75 percent of all completed suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair. Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.

It’s best to talk to the person as soon as you suspect something might be wrong. In a study of suicide survivors, 24 percent reported that less than five minutes elapsed from the time they decided to end their life and their suicide attempt.

While pill overdoses account for a large number of suicide and suicide attempts each year, most suicides are actually firearm-related.

An estimated 90 percent of suicide attempts using a firearm result in death, while those who attempt suicide by other means are far more likely to survive a suicide attempt. 2 percent of suicide attempts by pill overdose and 1 percent of suicide attempts by cutting survive their attempt. Means matter.

Keeping firearms locked and unloaded is associated with a lower risk of suicide among those living in the household, including children and adults.

In a nationwide study of adolescents who live in households with firearms, 41 percent reported that they could easily access the gun. Adolescents with mental health problems were just as likely to report easy access to a household firearm as adolescents without mental health or substance abuse problems.

This web site is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. No physician-patient relationship is created by this web site or its use. Neither HIPRC, the University of Washington, nor its employees, nor any contributor to this web site, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.