IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A CRISIS, PLEASE CONTACT 1-800-273-TALK (8255) IMMEDIATELY. WE WANT YOU SAFE!
People who take their own lives exhibit one or more risk factors (commonly called warning signs), either through what they say or what they do.
Hearing, seeing, sensing or learning about any of these in an individual is cause for you or someone to immediately ask the person if they are thinking about suicide. If they say yes, you need to get them help immediately. Please visit our Who Can Help page for more information.
The more risk factors (warning signs) a person has, the greater the risk that they are thinking about suicide. This list is NOT all-inclusive, and not everyone exhibits the same behaviors. If you are concerned, although it is difficult, you need to ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide.
It is courageous to ask for and offer help!
What they might say or talk about:
- Killing themselves.
- Having no reason to live. No purpose.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Feeling helpless.
- Feeling worthless.
- Feeling rejected.
- Feeling alone.
- Feeling trapped.
- Being a burden to others.
- Unbearable pain.
- Sudden overwhelming fear.
- Wanting to go to sleep and never wake up.
- “Everyone will be better off without me.”
What they might do – behaviors you might see:
A person’s suicide risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased, especially if it’s related to a painful event, trauma, loss, or change.
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for means.
- Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm.
- Stockpiling pills.
- Acting recklessly.
- Sudden impulsiveness.
- Withdrawing and/or losing interest in activities.
- Isolating from family and friends.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Significant changes in their normal behavior.
Moods you might see and/or sense:
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods.
- Unrelenting low mood.
- Loss of interest.
Biopsychosocial Risk Factors
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders.
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies.
- History of trauma or abuse.
- Some major physical illnesses.
- Previous suicide attempt.
- Family history of suicide.
Environmental Risk Factors
- Job or financial loss.
- Relational or social loss.
- Easy access to lethal means.
- Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence.
Social Cultural Risk Factors
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation.
- Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior.
- Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment.
- Certain cultural and religious beliefs.
- Exposure to, including through the media, and influence of others who have died by suicide.
The emotional crises that usually precede suicide are often recognizable and treatable. Although most depressed people do not kill themselves, most suicidal people are suffering from depression. Serious depression can be manifested in obvious sadness, but often it is rather expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from activities that had previously been enjoyable. One can help prevent suicide through early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.
Remember if you are in crisis please call a crisis line 1-800-273-8255.
If you are concerned about someone else, ask the person if they are thinking about suicide, and call a crisis line or 911 for help.