Risk Factors

Risk factors are often confused as warning signs of suicide. 

It is important to note, however, that factors identified as “increasing risk” are not factors that cause or predict a suicide attempt. Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide. Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt or die by suicide.

Risk Factors for Suicide

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and internet)

Protective Factors for Suicide

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
  • Strong connections to family and community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation

(This was adapted from "Understanding Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide” and “Risk and protective factors for suicide" by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-TALK(8255). Suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Local and National Resources

Campus Resources
Counseling and Psychological Services Center
(828) 262-3180

University Police Department  
(828) 262-2150
Emergencies: (828) 262-8000

Dean of Students    
(828) 262-8284

Counseling for Faculty
and Staff 

(828) 262-4951


Community Resources
Daymark Recovery Services  
(828) 264-4357
After Hours/Crises Line: (828) 264-4357

Finding Hope: Survivors of Suicide Support Group 
(828) 262-1628


National Resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  
1-800-273-TALK[8255]
Chat: Click Here  

The Trevor Project    
1-866-488-7386

At Risk: Suicide Prevention Training Simulation

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