How Many People Are Exposed to Suicide? Not Six

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2019 Apr;49(2):529-534. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12450. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


It has long been stated that six people are left behind following every suicide. Despite a lack of empirical evidence, this has been extensively cited for over 30 years. Using data from a random-digit dial survey, a more accurate number of people exposed to each suicide is calculated. A sample of 1,736 adults included 812 lifetime suicide-exposed respondents who reported age and number of exposures. Each suicide resulted in 135 people exposed (knew the person). Each suicide affects a large circle of people, who may be in need of clinician services or support following exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Networking*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult