In 2020, 861 Wisconsin residents died by suicide. Everyone can take action to prevent suicide.
Suicide in Wisconsin: Impact and Response is a report that seeks to mobilize and guide coordinated action to reduce suicide attempts and deaths. This report includes:
- The most up-to-date picture of suicide and self-harm injuries in Wisconsin based on surveys, death records, and hospital data.
- Four strategies and 50 opportunities for action that taken, as a whole, provide a path toward reducing suicidal behavior in Wisconsin.
Risk factors for suicide
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can't cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they're important to know.
- Mental health conditions, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance use treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and internet)
Warning signs of suicide
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
Five action steps for helping someone in emotional pain
- Ask: Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.
- Be there: This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk. Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling.
- Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
- Help them connect: Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing supports can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. These supports could be a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
- Follow-up: After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing.
Learn more: #BeThe1To
Prevent Suicide Wisconsin is the umbrella organization for suicide prevention efforts in Wisconsin. The Prevent Suicide Wisconsin Steering Committee includes representatives from state agencies, local suicide prevention coalition leaders, and local health departments, as well as people with lived experience of suicide. This group meets quarterly and provides oversight to Wisconsin's suicide prevention efforts, including programs supported by both state and federal funding.
Resilient Wisconsin is a statewide initiative to improve the conditions in which people work, live, and grow through trauma-informed resources, tools, and education. Go to Resilient Wisconsin to learn more.
Wisconsin Lifeline is Wisconsin's 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline support center serving the entire state. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides care and support to people experiencing stressful situations—whether that is thoughts of suicide, a mental health concern, or a substance use issue. It is a free and confidential service that is available 24/7.
People of all ages who need help for themselves or a loved one can access the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline/Wisconsin Lifeline by:
• Calling 988 (multiple languages).
• Sending a text message to 988 (English only).
• Using the chat feature at 988lifeline.org (English only).
Wisconsin Farm Center
The Wisconsin Farm Center offers a variety of free services and supports for farmers, including counseling provided by licensed mental health professionals through the 24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline (888-901-2558) and counseling vouchers. For more information, visit the Wisconsin Farm Center website.
Join the Safe Person campaign
Safe Person campaign members commit to uphold seven promises. Learn the seven promises and get a decal to show your commitment to non-judgmental listening and support.
Transforming Wisconsin's crisis services system
Enhancements to Wisconsin's system for mental health crisis situations will make this system more like the systems for medical and public safety emergencies. The goal of this work is to develop a system of care in line with national standards that can serve everyone, everywhere, every time. Learn more.
- American Association of Suicidology
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- JED Foundation
- National Organization of People of Color Against Suicide
- National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Suicide Awareness and Voices of Education
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Suicide Safe App for Mobile Devices
- Zero Suicide in Health and Behavioral Health Care