Association between Food Insecurity and Suicide Risk

A recent study found an association between participation in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and suicide risk. While other studies have found that food insecurity can contribute to mental health issues and suicidal behaviors (thoughts, plans, and attempts) globally,1 this is the first study to document the association in a nationally representative U.S. sample. 


The results of the analyses indicated that SNAP participants were 1.89 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, 2.35 times more likely to have planned suicide, and 2.89 times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than non-SNAP participants. When these results were adjusted to account for survey year, demographics, socioeconomic status, health status, and mental health service use, the association between SNAP participation and suicidal thoughts remained significant, with slight significance for planning and attempts.


This study is especially relevant given the increased prevalence of food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to note that this is a cross-sectional study (i.e., it reflects data collected at one point in time) and does not reflect current or ongoing conditions. The study measured SNAP participation by household rather than individual, and therefore may have implications for engaging the person at risk in suicide screening and intervention.

To read the complete study and For Additional Information

Contact: Sheri Nelson—605-274-1406