Suicide attempts

Not to be confused with suicide survivor.

A failed suicide attempt (Latin: tentamen suicidii), or nonfatal suicide attempt, is a suicide attempt from which the actor survived.


In the US, the NIMH reports there are 11 nonfatal suicide attempts for every suicide death.[1] The American Association of Suicidology reports higher numbers, stating that there are 25 suicide attempts for every suicide completion.[2] By these numbers, approximately 92-96% of suicide attempts end in survival.

In contrast to suicide mortality, rates of nonfatal self-injury are consistently higher among females.[3]

Parasuicide and Self-injury

Main article: Suicide terminology

Without commonly agreed-upon operational definitions, some suicidology researchers regard many suicide attempts as parasuicide or self-injurious behavior, rather than "true" suicide attempts.


Some suicide methods have higher rates of lethality than others. The use of firearms results in death 90% of the time. Wrist-slashing has a much lower lethality rate, comparatively. 75% of all suicide attempts are by self-poisoning, a method that is often thwarted because the drug is nonlethal or is used at a nonlethal dosage. These people survive 97% of the time.[4]


A nonfatal suicide attempt is the strongest known clinical predictor of eventual suicide.[5] Suicide risk among self-harm patients is hundreds of times higher than in the general population.[6] It is often estimated that about 10-15% of attempters eventually die by suicide.[7] The mortality risk is highest during the first months and years after the attempt: almost 1% of individuals who attempt suicide die within one year.[8]


Nonfatal suicide attempts can result in serious injury. 300,000 (or more) Americans survive a suicide attempt each year. While a majority sustain injuries that allow them to be released following emergency room treatment, a significant minority—about 116,000—are hospitalized, of whom 110,000 are eventually discharged alive. Their average hospital stay is 10 days and the average cost is $15,000. Some 19,000, (17%) of these people are permanently disabled, restricted in their ability to work, each year, at a cost of $127,000 per person.[9]

Punishment for failed suicide attempts

Historically in the Christian church, people who attempted suicide were excommunicated.[10] Suicide and attempted suicide, while previously criminally punishable, is no longer in most Western countries. It remains a criminal offense in most Islamic countries.[11] In the late 19th century in Great Britain, attempted suicide was deemed to be equivalent to attempted murder and could be punished by hanging.[10] In the United States, suicide is not illegal but may be associated with penalties for those who attempt it.[10]However, no country in Europe currently considers attempted suicide to be a crime.[10]

See also


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