Suicide: Risk Factors and Experiences

Suicide is the act of killing one’s self in a way that ends all life functions that can affect anyone at any age. Suicide comes in four stages: ideation also known as thoughts that can be passive or active, behaviors that are non-life threatening, attempts or when a client tries to kill themself and finally death by suicide. To better understand suicide is looking at the main risk factors and the struggles of populations that are more likely to die by suicide.

There are other things that must be taken into account such as the intervention performed on an at-risk client and how to create more protective factors for at-risk clients. Understanding that suicide are a social work issue by rethinking suicide as an opportunity for both the client and clinician to recognize maladaptive coping skills and develop safe plans.

Risk Factors

There are a variety of risk factors that is associated with completing suicide. A person’s environment and life experiences plays a role in what how coping skills are formed during their childhood, this includes if a person has experienced an Adverse Childhood Experience.

These ACEs can also contribute to a person’s sense of belonging and Substance Use Disorder can develop as a maladaptive coping mechanism.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

This is defined as any event that is abuse or neglect that a child can negatively experience either directly or indirectly between the ages of 0 to 13 (Citation). Childhood, particularly between the ages of 2 to 11 years old are important developmental areas because this is when children start to understand themselves and others within their world.

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An ACE that happens to a child during their development can cause the child to feel a sense of not being able to belong to a group and feeling like a burden on others (Rogers, Joiner, 2019). This can lead to a person to becoming isolated and the chance of developing a substance use disorder such as alcohol dependence becomes a higher risk factor for suicide ideation.

Substance Use Disorder

A substance use disorder is when a person uses substances in order to become impaired (Citation). A particular substance use disorder is alcohol dependence, which is legal substance within the United States and can be easily obtained. A combination of alcohol use disorder along with suicidal ideations can allow for a higher chance for suicide behaviors or attempts to happen. With this, alcohol dependence disorder is looked as a maladaptive coping mechanism and is commonly seen in teenagers and adults that have had some for.more of child.abuse or neglect. In fact a combination of ACEs and alcohol dependence has been shown to have a stronger relationship for people to attempt suicide (Chen, Chen, Liu, Kuo, Huang, 2018).

Populations Affected

Suicide can affect any person at anyone time that can be caused by a different life and cultural experiences. However, there are age-groups and populations that are at a higher risk for attempting suicide, in particular are teenagers and the elder age groups are at higher risk for suicide.

Ages 13-19. This age group is a toilet of physical and mental changes, such as puberty. These big changes also coincide with teens figuring out who they are as individuals, such as sexual identity and orientation for example, and finding a place of belonging among peers and cliques. Suicide ideation increases when teenagers fail to find a sense of belonging and because of the hormonal changes that happen during this developmental stage (citation). ACEs also raise the risk and likelihood for suicide ideation and behaviors among this age group.

Combat Veterans

Ages 70 and Beyond. This age group is consider the beginnings of elderhood, this is when people in this group start retiring and began to have challenges with their own medical health. This age group has a higher risk of suicide the older the person gets (McCoyd, Walter, p. 270). The beginnings of Alzheimer’s’ disease, the most common form of dementia, also develop in this stage of human development. In fact, elders that have early signs of dementia are more likely to have depressive symptoms and suicide ideation (Kim, Yang, 2017).

Social Work Issue

Suicide is a social work issue because of the issue of lethality that comes with this practice. There are interventions and models in place for suicide ideation, behaviors, and attempts. Along with these interventions, an understanding of how clients and clinicians can play a role in the difference between social stigma and positive change towards suicide.


When performing interventions on a person that is suicidal, it is important to use crisis intervention and suicide intervention model as a way to assess the client’s risk. Both these interventions can aide in helping the client move out thinking about death and killing themself; other intervention models such as psychosocial intervention bring understanding to their suicidal behaviors and attempts.

Social Stigma

This area is about how clients and clinicians can learn to understand about how social stigma can play a role. Clinicians can start by educating at-risk clients about how establishing suicide safety questionnaire does not allow for clinicians to Baker Act clients.

Cite this page

Suicide: Risk Factors and Experiences. (2021, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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