Important Facts About Suicide

There are some common misunderstandings about suicide. Here, we explain four important facts about suicide.

Long-Term Survival

More than 90% of people who survive a suicidal crisis live and recover

A review of ninety research studies found that more than 90% of people who were seen in a hospital following self-harm did not go on later to die by suicide (Owens, et al., 2002).  In other words, if someone can survive a suicidal crisis, the person will almost always find a path forward to live.

Duration of crises

Crises are time limited

One study of 153 people who attempted suicide in a near-lethal way found that 24% of the study participants said that the time between deciding and then acting to attempt suicide was less than 5 minutes (Simon, et al., 2007).  In other words, the critical times determining whether someone lives or dies in a suicidal crisis can be extremely brief – sometimes less than 5 minutes.


Firearms can turn a crisis deadly

How people attempt suicide is as important as why people attempt suicide.  When a firearm is used in a suicide attempt, the outcome is fatal in about 90% of cases (Conner, et al., 2019).  In other words, when someone responds to a crisis by misusing a firearm in a suicide attempt, the likelihood of surviving to have a second chance is drastically reduced. 

Method Substitution

Substituting methods is rare

When one method for suicide is blocked or not available, most people do not switch to another method – i.e. engage in “method substitution.”  A follow-up study of 515 people who were blocked from jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge found that only about 5% went on to die by suicide (Seiden, 1978).  Recall that times of crisis can be brief, sometimes just 5 minutes or less.  If firearms or other lethal means for suicide are not available during a crisis, this can allow enough time to pass for someone to recover.