I recently heard that more people commit suicide each
year than are murdered. Is that true and what are some
of the danger signs to look out for?
It's true that annually some 23,000 people lose their
lives to homicide and 32,000 people take their own lives
in acts of suicide. 500,000 Americans attempts suicide
each year, but survive. The more people are aware of
the risk factors, the better. Physicians use the following
guideline to help identify a patient's potential, called the
"SAD PERSONS" scale.
S - sex: Males kill themselves three times more often
A - age: more common among men 45 years and older.
D - depression: 70% of suicides were preceded by a
P - Previous attempts or threats: Most people who die
from suicide do so on the 1st or 2nd attempt.
E - Ethanol use: Recent onset of ethanol or other
sedatives hypnotic drug use increases the risk and may
be a form of self-medication.
R - Rational thinking loss: Profound cognitive slowing,
psychotic depression, pre-existing brain damage.
S - Social support deficit: Elderly people, single
alienated adolescents or depressed individuals (social
withdrawal often takes place as a result of the stressed
behavior of victims).
0 - Organized plan: Individual may have threatened or
talked about "life not worth living," give things away,
determined methods, etc.
N - No spouse: Rate is higher among divorced or
widowed, singles, or those who may have alienated a
S - Sickness: People who have struggles with chronic,
terminal, painful or incapacitating Illnesses.
Answered by: Dr. Robert Rice