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:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
- Call the Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ youth) at 1-866-488-7386.
- Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for more information and resources for individuals, families, friends and survivors.
- Lastly, make an appointment with your local medical health professional to find out how to proceed with any necessary screenings or tests for your loved one.