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Suicide in Kentucky | Facts and Prevention

suicide in kentucky

Suicide is a serious public health problem that causes immeasurable pain, suffering and loss to individuals, families and communities nationwide. In Kentucky, it is the 11th leading cause of death with one person dying by suicide every 12 hours.

To help prevent this in your community, it is important to understand the facts, risk factors and where to find help.



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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that while there is no one single cause for suicide, depression is the most common condition associated with it. Moreover, depression can often go undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase a person’s risk.

For those suffering from mental health conditions, suicide most often occurs when a person’s stressors exceed their coping abilities. As a result, these stressors can make them feel as if there is no other option to end their pain and anxiety.  One of the most important tools we have to help prevent suicide in our community is being able to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of someone we believe may be at risk.

Suicide Risk Factors:

Mental Health Disorders:

  • Depression
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain

Environmental Factors:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Job Loss
  • Harassment or Bullying
  • Relationship problems

Historical Factors:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide attempts

Suicide Warning Signs

When concerned that a person may be suicidal, look for changes in behavior or new behaviors that seem out of character. This change is of most concern if the new or changed behavior is related to one of the risk factors listed above. Most people who take their own lives exhibit one or more of these warning signs:

If the person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Behaviors to look out for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of committing suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. nspl_logo-2

For more information about prevention and how to help those affected by suicide, visit The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention webpage.

In addition, people who actively manage their mental health conditions, like depression, often lead fulfilling lives and are capable of managing their current stressors. Mental health services can be beneficial to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Some resources available in Kentucky can be found at Kentucky Suicide Prevention.

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KVC Kentucky, headquartered in Lexington, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit child welfare and behavioral healthcare organization that provides behavioral health services, foster care, family preservation and diversion services. KVC’s services are in-home, strengths-based, and driven by a focus on the safety, permanency and well-being of the child and family. Each year, KVC Kentucky serves more than 10,000 children and families in eight regions of the state. The organization is a subsidiary of KVC Health Systems which directly touches the lives of over 50,000 children each day across the U.S. Learn more at