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Suicide: Risk Factors

Suicide risk factors are characteristics or conditions associated with an increased likelihood that an individual will engage in an intentional, self-inflicted act that could lead to death. Unlike suicide warning signs, which are verbal or behavioral signals that an individual is actively suicidal, risk factors are underlying characteristics associated with elevated chances of suicide behavior. Suicide risk factors are often categorized as distal rather than proximal. Distal risks are underlying characteristics that heighten a person’s risk for suicidal behavior in his or her lifetime. Proximal risks can trigger or escalate a potential suicide event.

This entry highlights the most prevalent distal risk factors, including historical risk factors, psychiatric diagnoses, medical health risks, and sociodemographic risk factors. Proximal risk factors, including hopelessness, thoughts of suicide death, and ...

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