• Suicide Prevention Warning Signs and Risk Factors

    Warning Signs

    Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

    If a person talks about:

    • Being a burden to othersSuicide Prevention
    • Feeling trapped
    • Experiencing unbearable pain
    • Having no reason to live
    • Killing themselves

    Specific behaviors to look out for include:

    • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
    • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
    • Acting recklessly
    • Withdrawing from activities
    • Isolating from family and friends
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
    • Giving away prized possessions
    • Aggression

    People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

    • Depression
    • Loss of interest
    • Rage
    • Irritability
    • Humiliation
    • Anxiety

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.

    Health Related Risk Factors:

    • Mental health conditions
      • Depression
      • Substance use problems
      • Bipolar disorder
      • Schizophrenia
      • Personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships
      • Conduct disorder
      • Anxiety disorders
    • Serious physical health conditions including pain
    • Traumatic brain injury

    Environmental Risk Factors:

    • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
    • Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
    • Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
    • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide

    Historical Risk Factors:

    • Previous suicide attempts
    • Family history of suicide
    • Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

    If you are worried about someone….

    Have an honest conversation

    1. Talk to them in private
    2. Listen to their story
    3. Tell them you care about them
    4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
    5. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist
    6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice

    If someone says they are considering suicide

    • Take the person seriously
    • Stay with them
    • Help them remove lethal means
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
    • Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
    • Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room

    Don’t be afraid to ask your loved one: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” If the answer is yes, stay with them and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988