Although recent years have seen large decreases in the overall global rate of suicide fatalities, this trend is not reflected everywhere. Suicide and suicidal behaviour continue to present key challenges for public policy and health services, with increasing suicide deaths in some countries such as the USA. The development of suicide risk is complex, involving contributions from biological (including genetics), psychological (such as certain personality traits), clinical (such as comorbid psychiatric illness), social and environmental factors. The involvement of multiple risk factors in conveying risk of suicide means that determining an individual's risk of suicide is challenging. Improving risk assessment, for example, by using computer testing and genetic screening, is an area of ongoing research. Prevention is key to reduce the number of suicide deaths and prevention efforts include universal, selective and indicated interventions, although these interventions are often delivered in combination. These interventions, combined with psychological (such as cognitive behavioural therapy, caring contacts and safety planning) and pharmacological treatments (for example, clozapine and ketamine) along with coordinated social and public health initiatives, should continue to improve the management of individuals who are suicidal and decrease suicide-associated morbidity.