These risk factors (from the AAS1) all exist by virtue of things that cannot be changed, as they either occur by birth, or as a result of past events:

  • Demographics (people in these categories all have statistically higher suicide rates): male (almost four times as many males as females die by suicide2, although females make more attempts than men), older age (suicide rates for those aged 65 or over are 40% higher than for the population in general2), separation or divorce, early widowhood
  • History of suicide attempts (someone who has tried to commit suicide once has a much greater likelihood of trying again)
  • Prior thoughts about suicide (if someone has thought about suicide once, they are likely to think about it again, or act on those thoughts)
  • Family history of suicide or attempted suicide
  • Parental history of (if any of these happened to parents, then suicide risk is increased for the children):
    • Violence
    • Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)
    • Hospitalisation for major psychiatric disorder
    • Divorce
  • History of trauma or abuse (physical or sexual)
  • History of psychiatric hospitalisation
  • History of frequent mobility (i.e. moving towns, cities or countries frequently)
  • History of violent behaviour
  • History of impulsive/reckless behaviour (suicide is often an impulse act, so those prone to acting impulsively are more at risk of committing suicide)


  1. American Association of Suicidology, Factsheet: The Risk Factors for Suicide and suicidal Behaviors, from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS):