Suicide is complex, with many different factors contributing to an individual’s risk of suicide.

Suicide often does not have one direct cause and youth who attempt or die by suicide often have a mix of risk and protective factors in their life. The factors below have been identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as contributing to suicide risk. This list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Risk Factors

  • Individual factors, such as:
    • Previous suicide attempts
    • Mental health conditions, such as depression
    • Social isolation
    • Substance use
  • Relationship factors, such as:
    • Adverse childhood experiences
    • Bullying
    • Family history of suicide
    • Family or peer conflict
  • Community and Societal factors, such as:
    • Barriers to health care
    • Stigma associated with mental health or help-seeking
    • Access to lethal means
    • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide
    • Systemic trauma or marginalizing experiences based on socioeconomic factors, race/ethnicity or gender/sexual identity

Protective Factors

  • Coping and problem-solving skills
  • Connections to family, friends, and community
  • Supportive relationships with caregivers
  • Access to health care
  • Limited access to lethal means

Warning Signs

Most youth who die by suicide show some warning signs and behavior changes. It is important to note that not all youth who are at risk of suicide will show these warning signs, and not all youth who exhibit these behaviors are at risk for suicide. Common warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Talking about killing oneself, feeling hopeless, feeling like a burden, or having no reason to live
  • Mood changes, including depression, anxiety, and agitation
  • Behavior changes:
    • Increased substance use
    • Withdrawing from activities
    • Isolating from family and friends
    • Sleeping too much or not enough
    • Giving away prized possessions
    • Irritability

Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics