When do people take their lives?

A study of people who nearly died in a suicide attempt asked:

“How much time passed between the time you decided to complete suicide and when you actually attempted suicide?” (Simon 2001)

  • 24% said less than five minutes
  • Another 47% said an hour or less

Although some people who die by suicide plan their act carefully, many don’t. In fact, many take their lives within 24 hours of a crisis—like an argument with a family member or a relationship break-up.

The NVISS study found that one-third of youths who died by suicide had faced a crisis within 24 hours, according to the police or medical examiner investigation report.

Simon TR, Swann AC, Pwell KE, Potter LB, Kresnow M, and O’Carroll, PW. Characteristics of impulsive suicide attempts and attempters. SLTB. 2001; 32(supp): 49-59.