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In the United States over 30,000 people commit suicide each year. The two age groups of primary concern are young adults between the ages of 19 and 25, and those over the age of 65 years. Because suicide is an emotionally charged, highly stigmatized event there may be an inherent unwillingness in the families of the deceased to acknowledge it as such. Risk factors for suicide vary according to gender, age, culture and other factors. Some risk factors are specific to adolescents. Suicide is not a single behaviour, and has many determinants and complexities. It is believed that the greater the number of risk factors present, the higher the potential for suicide. The diagnosis and treatment of individuals at high risk of suicide would be greatly improved if clinicians and educators were aware of relevant risk factors that predispose and precipitate suicidal behaviour.