|Suicide Warning Signs|
Talking about suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."
Seeking out lethal means
Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death
Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
Getting affairs in order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.
Withdrawing from others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
Sudden sense of calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.
Talking to a person about suicide
- I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
- Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
- I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
- When did you begin feeling like this?
- Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
- How can I best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
- You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
- You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
- I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
- When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.
|Level of Suicide Risk|
Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn't very lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.
- Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
- Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
- Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
- Do you intend to commit suicide? (INTENTION)
Helping a suicidal person:
- Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor's appointment.
- Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.
- Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don't believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.
- Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
- Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person's doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
- Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.
- Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.
- Mental illness
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Terminal illness or chronic pain
- Recent loss or stressful life event
- Social isolation and loneliness
- History of trauma or abuse
Suicide in Teens
Suicide in the Elderly