Suicide is a major public health problem

More than 34,500 Americans died by suicide in 2007 (AAS)
There is 1 suicide every 15.2 minutes (AAS)
24% of the general population has considered suicide at some time in his/her life (Linehan et al., 1982)
Suicide is the:
11th leading cause of death overall in America (CDC)
3rd leading cause of death for young Americans between the ages of 10-24 (CDC)
2nd leading cause of death for American college-aged students (Kochanek et al., 2002)
There are an estimated 864,950 attempts per year in the U.S. (SAMHSA)
13.8 million Americans will attempt suicide in their lifetime (Kessler, et al., 1999) 
Each suicide produces at least six, and as many as hundreds of “survivors,” or people left behind to grieve. Based on the 766,042 suicides from 1982 through 2007, it can be estimated that the number of survivors in the U.S. is 4.6 million. (AAS)
 Suicide is an often ignored and stigmatized topic
For every two people who die from homicides, three people die of suicide (Kochanek et al., 2002)
There are more suicides globally than deaths from war and violence combined (WHO)
Approximately twice as many Americans die by suicides than from HIV/AIDS (CDC)
Less than half of adults with serious mental illness received treatment or counseling in the past year (SAMHSA)
Suicides can be prevented 
More than 60% of adolescents and 90% of adults who die by suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder (Brent et al., 1999; Cavanaugh et al., 2003; Conner et al., 2007; Conwell et al., 1996; Fortune et al., 2007; Hawton et al., 2002)
In a national poll, 78% of Americans think that many suicides are preventable with appropriate research, interventions and services (Research America, 2006)
86% of Americans surveyed think it is important to invest in the prevention of suicide (Research America, 2006)
Risk and protective factors can vary according to age, gender, ethnic group or occupation, and can vary over time. Some examples are:  
20% of all suicide deaths occur among veterans (NVDRS)
More women attempt suicide, more men die by suicide (CDC)
79.4% of completed suicides are men (CDC)
14.5% of students, grade 9-12, seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months (18.7% of females and 10.3% of males). (CDC)   
According to several nationally representative studies, in any given year, about 5% to 7% of adults have a serious mental illness. A similar percentage of children (about 5% to 9%) have a serious emotional disturbance (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001; HHS, 2002; Kessler et al., 2001)
Elderly comprise 12.6% of the population yet account for 15.7% of suicides (AAS)
Among industrialized countries, most report that suicide rates rise progressively with age, with the highest rates occurring for men age 75 and older (Joiner, 2005; Pearson, 2002).
In general, suicide rates increase with age with rates among people aged 75 years and older approximately three times those among people aged 15-24 years (CDC).
Among older adults, older white males have the highest rates of suicide (Conwell & Duberstein, 2001; Conwell, Duberstein, & Caine, 2002; Heisel, 2006; Meehan, Saltzman, & Sattin 1991; Pearson, 2002).
In addition to the tragedy of lost lives, mental illnesses come with a devastatingly high financial cost. In the U.S., the annual economic, indirect cost of mental illnesses is estimated to be $79 billion: $63 billion in lost productivity, $12 billion in mortality costs, and $4 billion in productivity losses for incarcerated individuals and for the time of those who provide family care (HHS, 2002; Moscicki, 2001) 

Click here for a copy of AFSP/SPAN USA's Suicide Fact Sheet