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Warning Signs

Suicide Warning Signs

Recognize the Warning Signs

While there is no one cause for suicide, and no two people experience a suicidal crisis in the same way, many people who are in crisis will say or do things that indicate that they are struggling. These signs may not be very obvious, so it’s important to know what to listen and watch for.

There is a Change in Behaviors

Some statements and behaviors may indicate that a person is at immediate risk for suicide. If you notice the following, work to keep that person safe while you seek professional help. (Please see How to Talk to a Person in Crisis and Crisis Resources for more information)

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves, such as buying a gun or researching means online
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Visiting or calling loved ones to say goodbye

There is a Change in Behaviors

In addition to the statements above, certain behaviors and changes in the patterns of a person’s behaviors can also indicate that a person may be in crisis. It’s especially important to note changes in behavior precipitated by a painful event, loss, or change in the person’s life; this risk is even higher if the person has recently been exposed to suicide. If you notice the following, it is important to ask further questions and support the person in seeking help if necessary:

  • Withdrawing or becoming increasingly isolated from family and friends
  • Increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Extreme fatigue or agitation, sleeping too much or too little
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as reckless spending, gambling, or shoplifting
  • Showing extreme mood swings, including periods of perceived ‘happiness’ and elation

There is a Change in Communication

Sometimes, people make comments that indicate they may be thinking of suicide. When you hear these things, it is an indication that the person is at an increased risk of suicide and may need professional support. These can include statements about:

  • Killing themselves, including ‘jokes’ about suicide
  • Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Being in unbearable pain, either physically or emotionally
  • Feeling trapped, having no way out
  • Being a burden to others, or that people would be ‘better off’ without them
  • Having no reason to live

Common Stressors

That Increase the Risk of Suicide

Recent relationship issues

Life changes like a break-up, divorce, or a fight with a person close to them.

Job loss

Losing a job can affect relationships, finances, and a person's self worth.

Financial issues

Be aware in changes like stocks going down, gambling addictions, large debt, or unpaid medical bills.

Legal issues

Legal issues related to finances, child custody, divorce, or convictions.

Recent loss of loved one

Grief and loss are heavy, strong emotions that may require counseling to overcome.

Medical issues

New diagnosis, chronic pain, or a recent injury can be debilitating physically and emotionally.

Risk Factors

To Look for in Others

History of mental health conditions

Treated and untreated mental health conditions can reemerge after a stressor.

History of suicidal thoughts or attempts

Suicidal thoughts can reemerge after a stressor.

Family history of mental health condition or suicide

Be aware of family histories and how they can carry through generations.

History of trauma or abuse

New stressors can unlock past traumas and suicidal thoughts.

Prolonged stress

Everyone has a breaking point. Be aware of how stress is affecting your loved ones.

Insomnia

Without nurturing sleep for our mental health, stressors can be aggravated by insomnia.