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Cost of Suicide

An individual who has lost a loved one to suicide is considered a suicide survivor. Survivors of suicide have a higher risk of suicide themselves. They often experience intense and complex grief that may be accompanied by feelings of guilt, which can increase risk of suicide. Due to the stigma surrounding suicide, they may find it hard to seek support for these feelings. Increased risk can also be partly explained by familial relation and genetic components of mental illness, in the case of a relative's death by suicide.

Suicide can have a significant impact on communities. In addition to the shock and grief that accompanies a death, there can also be suicide clusters, meaning multiple suicides in a short period of time in that geographic area. Suicide clusters are relatively rare, but are most commonly seen in teens or young adults. Rural communities may have a higher risk of suicide clusters given the tight-knit nature of many towns.

There is also an economic cost associated with suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide and suicide attempts cost society about $70 billion in 2018. The average cost of just one suicide is nearly $1.5 million. This estimate combines medical expenses and costs due to work loss. Suicide prevention programs, particularly those that also focus on building community resilience after a suicide, may help reduce the economic costs of suicide as well as the psychological effects.

Resources to Learn More

After Rural Suicide: A Guide for Coordinated Community Postvention Response
Document
Provides rural counties and communities support in developing a locally-controlled and coordinated postvention plan in the event of a suicide with an emphasis on the unique characteristics of rural areas.
Organization(s): California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)
Date: 8/2016

Preventing and Responding to Suicide Clusters in American Indian and Native American Communities
Document
Offers background information about suicide clusters and their impact on tribal communities. Discusses suicide rates, cluster contagion, risk and protective factors, and cluster prevention efforts. Identifies culturally appropriate and strength-based approaches and offers recommendations on cluster prevention, and community response and recovery.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 2016

Suicide Grief: Healing After a Loved One's Suicide
Website
Provides healthy coping strategies and resources to help individuals in the aftermath of a loved one's suicide.
Organization(s): Mayo Clinic