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Cost to Individuals, Families, Communities, and Society

Someone who has lost a loved one to suicide is considered a suicide survivor. Survivors of suicide often experience intense and complex grief that may be accompanied by feelings of guilt. Due to the stigma surrounding suicide, survivors may find it hard to seek support or talk about their feelings. Further, survivors of suicide have a higher risk of suicide themselves. This risk can be partly explained by familial relation and genetic components of mental illness, in the case of a relative's death by suicide. There is also significant trauma and grief associated with losing a loved one to suicide, which can increase the risk of suicide. Further, to the extent that environmental and community factors play a role in suicide risk, including living in a rural area, individuals who live near loved ones who die by suicide may face a higher risk because they are exposed to those same risk factors.

Communities are also significantly impacted when there is a death by suicide. 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 related to medical and work loss costs. According to the 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 and emotional costs.

Resources to Learn More

After Rural Suicide: A Guide for Coordinated Community Postvention Response
This guide provides rural counties with ideas for how to develop coordinated efforts to respond after a suicide occurs.
Organization(s): California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)
Date: 8/2016

Preventing and Responding to Suicide Clusters in American Indian and Native American Communities
Offers information about suicide clusters, and identifies culturally appropriate and strength-based approaches to suicide cluster prevention, response, and recovery for tribal communities.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 2016

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