Wisconsin Suicide Prevention

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Suicide occurs among all groups of people. No age, race, or socioeconomic class is immune. The suicide rate in Wisconsin is four times the homicide rate. Each year, over 700 Wisconsin residents die by suicide. In addition, approximately 5,500 Wisconsin residents are hospitalized due to intentional, self-inflicted injury. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of years of potential life lost (YPLL) before age 65.

During 2007-2011, the cost of inpatient hospitalizations due to self-inflicted injury was over $369 million. Most importantly, suicide exacts an incalculable toll on family, friends, and loved ones. Though the burden of suicide in Wisconsin is great, hope lies in the fact that suicide is preventable. Become informed by reading the Wisconsin Prevention Strategy P-00968 (PDF), released in 2015.

What do we know?

Although suicide affects all people, certain groups are burdened more than others in Wisconsin:

  • Adults aged 45-54 experience the highest suicide rate by age.
  • Nearly four out of five people who die by suicide are male.
  • Whites experience the highest suicide rates by race, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Blacks/African Americans.

Common circumstances related to suicide in Wisconsin have been identified:

  • Approximately 50 percent of suicide decedents have at least one known mental health problem, and more than 40 percent are receiving mental health treatment at the time of death.
  • Personal crises, intimate partner problems, substance abuse problems, physical health issues, and job problems are prominent circumstances of suicide.

For more information on the extent and characteristics of suicide, please see the 2014 report:

The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin: 2007-2011, P-00648 (07/2014) (PDF)

To search for suicide and self-inflicted injury data using the Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH) data query system, please refer to the following tutorial:

WISH Tutorial for Suicide and Self-Injury Queries, P-00785 (PDF)

What can we do?

Suicide prevention efforts promote healthy brain development, positive behaviors, and supportive relationships. They also provide or enhance services for people experiencing mental health problems, substance use issues, suicidal ideation, or personal crises. These activities can target individuals, families, communities, and society through primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention pathways.

  • Primary prevention focuses on strategies that promote the health of the population and reduce risk factors for all people.
  • Secondary prevention focuses on early detection and intervention or treatment of suicidal or potential suicidal behavior.
  • Tertiary prevention focuses on providing treatment once suicidal behavior has taken place and preventing its recurrence.

A comprehensive national plan for suicide prevention was outlined by the U.S. Surgeon General in the report:

2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action

More information on specific suicide prevention programs can be found at the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

For more information on suicide prevention activities occurring in Wisconsin, please visit the Prevent Suicide Wisconsin website.

For information on youth suicide prevention, visit the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

Additional Information

  • The 2008 report, The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin, examined data related to suicide from the years 2001-2006. The data in this report is not directly comparable to the data in the updated 2014 report, The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin: 2007-2011, P-00648.
  • The Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin is an instrumental partner in the analysis of data related to suicide in Wisconsin.
Last Revised: June 11, 2019