Recognizing the warning signs of suicide

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide

Friends and family may be the first to see the warning signs of suicide. If you notice any of the behaviors listed below, get help as soon as possible.

  • Talks about committing suicide
  • Has trouble eating or sleeping
  • Experiences drastic changes in behavior
  • Withdraws from friends and/or social activities
  • Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
  • Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
  • Gives away prized possessions
  • Has attempted suicide before
  • Creates suicidal notes or written comments about dying
  • Makes suicidal threats — direct statements (“I want to die” or “I’m going to kill myself”) or indirect statements (“The world would be better without me” or “Nobody will miss me”)
  • Takes unnecessary and dangerous risks
  • Has had a recent, severe loss
  • Is preoccupied with death and dying
  • Loses interest in personal appearance
  • Increases the use of alcohol and drugs
  • Exhibits depression, hopelessness and helplessness; feels overwhelmed by sadness and pessimistic about the future
  • Has made efforts to hurt themselves — scratching, cutting, marking their body and other self-destructive behavior like running into traffic
  • Shows sudden changes in personality, friends and behaviors
  • Has persistent physical complaints

How to help

If you notice changes in your child, family member or friend, a health care provider will be able to determine if they are at risk for suicide and can recommend treatment. Knowing exactly when the symptoms started will help your doctor determine why they started and how to proceed with tests and diagnosis.

Depending on the outcome of your loved one’s assessments, treatment options might include: seeking a mental health professional’s counsel, participating in a substance abuse program and taking medications.

There are several resources available if you need extra support or if you or someone you know is in crisis:

15 steps to take to help and support someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Friends and family may be the first to see the warning signs of suicide. Learn more about when to seek help.
Let’s set the record straight on some common myths about suicide.
Several internal and external factors may put your loved one at risk for suicide. Learn more.