Table 1Definitions of Suicide-Related Terms

SuicideDeath caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.2
Suicide attemptA nonfatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury.2
Suicidal self-directed violenceBehavior that is self-directed and deliberately results in injury or the potential for injury to oneself. There is evidence, whether implicit or explicit, of suicidal intent. This encompasses suicide deaths and suicide attempts.2
Other suicidal behavior and preparatory actsActs or preparation toward making a suicide attempt, but before potential for harm has begun. This can include anything beyond a verbalization or thought, such as assembling a method (e.g., buying a gun, collecting pills) or preparing for one’s death by suicide (e.g., writing a suicide note, giving things away).2,3 Referred to as “aborted suicide attempt” by the American Psychiatric Association.4
Suicidal ideationPassive thoughts about wanting to be dead or active thoughts about killing oneself, not accompanied by preparatory behavior.3
Self-harmAn act with nonfatal outcome, in which an individual deliberately initiates a nonhabitual behavior that, without intervention from others, will cause self-harm, or deliberately ingests a substance in excess of the prescribed or generally recognized therapeutic dosage, and which is aimed at realizing changes which the subject desired via the actual or expected physical consequences.5
Suicidal behaviorIncludes suicide, suicide attempts, other suicidal behavior, and preparatory acts.


Cover of Screening for Suicide Risk in Primary Care
Screening for Suicide Risk in Primary Care: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [Internet].
Evidence Syntheses, No. 103.
O’Connor E, Gaynes B, Burda BU, et al.

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