Suicide: Risk factors

There are many factors that can help increase or decrease the risk of suicide in a given individual. Recognizing these factors is important in the ability to prevent suicide.

This list is not necessarily exhaustive and the important thing is that people worried about themselves or others call us.

Three categories of risk factors

List of risk factors

1. Predisposing factors are elements of the past that can make the person more vulnerable

  • One or more suicide attempts
  • Mental health problems (depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders)
  • Problems with alcohol or drug addiction
  • Various personality traits (anxiety, low self-esteem, impulsiveness)
  • The difficulty of recognizing or accepting sexual orientation
  • Chronic physical health problems
  • Lack of ability to solve certain problems
  • Suicide by a member of the immediate network of the person
  • Child abuse
  • Isolation and the absence of significant links in the family
  • Unemployment and / or poverty

2. The contributing factors amplify the fragility of the individual (substance abuse, unstable social environment).

  • Substance Abuse and Gambling
  • Previous suicidal thoughts
  • Living alone
  • Erosion in interpersonal relationships
  • Refusal to ask for help
  • Increased impulsivity
  • Conflicts in the family or at work
  • Isolation
  • The lack of a support network
  • Recent bereavement
  • The availability of means to commit suicide
  • Lack of continuity in care

3. Heavy factors are elements that can trigger a suicidal idea or behavior. They are grouped according to periods of life.

During teenagehood

  • A breakup
  • School failure
  • Sudden conflicts in the family
  • Conflict with peers with humiliation and / or rejection


  • A breakup
  • The loss of a job
  • A professional failure
  • Conflict with justice
  • Financial difficulties

In the elderly

  • The mourning of the spouse
  • Loss of driving license
  • The loss of functional autonomy
  • Moving to a facility for people with loss of autonomy
  • Chronic illness

Populations more vulnerable to suicide

Just as risk factors must be taken into consideration, certain individual characteristics must be recognized. These characteristics imply more vulnerable populations.

  • Men
  • Aboriginal population
  • Homosexual, bisexual or transgender people
  • Youth aged 15 to 24
  • People aged 65 and over
  • Inmates
  • Individuals with one or more episodes of self-inflicted injury
  • People with a mental health problem or chronic pain
  • People with an addiction problem

There are many protective factors that contribute to suicide prevention.

You can consult them here.