Suicide and Suicidal Attempts in the United States: Costs and Policy Implications


  • The development of this paper was supported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through Grant No. SM059945 to Education Development Center, Inc., for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. All views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their institutions or sponsors.
  • The authors thank the key informants for their time and insightful interviews, Phaedra S. Corso, Ph.D., and Ted R. Miller, Ph.D., for their insights about past research, and Clare L. Hurley, MM, for editorial assistance.


The national cost of suicides and suicide attempts in the United States in 2013 was $58.4 billion based on reported numbers alone. Lost productivity (termed indirect costs) represents most (97.1%) of this cost. Adjustment for under-reporting increased the total cost to $93.5 billion or $298 per capita, 2.1–2.8 times that of previous studies. Previous research suggests that improved continuity of care would likely reduce the number of subsequent suicidal attempts following a previous nonfatal attempt. We estimate a highly favorable benefit–cost ratio of 6 to 1 for investments in additional medical, counseling, and linkage services for such patients.