Facts About Suicide

The following are some facts about suicide.

Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Colorado teenagers. Overall, nearly as many Coloradans die by their own hand as on our increasingly busy highways. Populous Jefferson County has one of the largest number of suicide fatalities each year.

Even more alarming, survey results compiled by the Colorado Trust show that up to 25% of all teens in Colorado have given the idea of completing suicide serious thought.

National surveys estimate there are 18 to 25 suicide attempts for every suicide death. Twenty-five percent of girls and nearly 15% of boys in grades nine through twelve have thought about suicide; nearly as many have actually made serious suicide plans.

  • In 2015, there were 1,093 suicides among Colorado residents.
  • In 2015, more Coloradans died by suicide than in motor vehicle accidents or from illnesses such as diabetes, pneumonia or breast cancer.
  • Among youth and young adults ages 10-34, suicide is the leading cause of death. Suicide is a problem that impacts Coloradans regardless of age, race, ethnicity, income level, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of injury death in Colorado
  • In 2015, the most recent year of data available nationally, Colorado had the ninth-highest suicide rate in the United States and is consistently among the 10 states with the highest suicide rates.

Who’s Most at Risk?

There are definite differences between boys and girls and among different ethnic groups and nationalities, but the startling truth is that no group is automatically exempt. Suicide is an equal opportunity threat. Ending your life can seem like a face-saving solution to the all-star athlete who let his team down or the Honor Roll student who ruined her perfect record with a B or the only way out to someone who’s seriously depressed, being abused or dealing with extreme stress at home

Risk Factors

  • Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, or other mental illness.
  • Significant loss (death, divorce, loss of health, separation, break-ups, loss of respect, etc.).
  • Pressure to succeed.
  • Family problems.
  • Poor self esteem.
  • Family history of suicidal behavior.
  • Someone close to individual has completed suicide.

Most teens don’t really want to end their life; they want to end their pain. They’re depressed and unhappy; from their point of view their situation is hopeless, their problems unsolvable. Often teenagers haven’t had enough life experiences to acquire coping skills or learn that they can work through even the toughest problems. It’s hard to imagine tomorrow will be any better when you hate your life today.

“By some estimates, four out of five people who commit suicide have tried to warn others of their intent through verbal statements, written notes, demonstrating a preoccupation with death or other behavior indicating that they are planning to end their life.” —Colorado Trust Report

Studies show that suicidal teenagers are not very likely to recognize they need help, much less ask for it. And adults sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between the normal angst of growing up and a potentially life-threatening situation. When teens do want help, they usually turn to other teenagers rather than adults.

Eight out of ten people say the biggest reason they didn’t ask for help is that they wanted to solve the problem on their own. 62% clung to the belief that if they just stuck it out, the problem would fix itself. An equal number said they didn’t get professional help because it was too expensive, or they didn’t know where to go. And over half thought it wouldn’t do any good anyway.

Among the general population, there’s little awareness of the warning signs of suicide, and even lower awareness of what to do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal. In fact, in one study only 9% of health teachers and a third of high school counselors felt they could correctly identify students at risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all pediatricians question their teen patients about suicidal thoughts as part of their routine medical history, and the American Medical Association recommends that suicide screenings be done annually.

Parents are often torn between giving their kids the space and freedom they need to grow up and the overwhelming desire every parent has to protect their child from pain, hurt and disappointment. Kids think adults don’t care or don’t notice, but sometimes the adult just isn’t sure when to step in and when to step back.

Many people think if someone tries to take their own life, it’s a crime. It’s not a crime; it’s a medical emergency. If you call 911 to report an attempted suicide and the police arrive, the person may be taken into protective custody so that they can be taken to the emergency room or to see a mental health counselor. They’re not being arrested, and won’t have a criminal record.


Adolescent boys are less likely to make plans to commit suicide; but more likely to complete an attempt. Boys are also more likely to be outwardly aggressive, abuse alcohol and use firearms – all factors that lead to a higher rate of fatal suicide attempts.

Girls are much more prone to depression than boys, but are also more willing to find support through relationships. It’s more common for girls to attempt suicide, but less likely for their attempt to be fatal. That may be because girls most often choose pills over firearms.

National studies have shown that young people of color may be more likely to seriously think about suicide, as well as kids who are members of any other type of minority group, or who feel like outsiders – including gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and Native Americans.


Recommended Reading: Colorado Trust Report on Suicide