Call 911 if you see or hear the following:

Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself or talking about wanting to die. Especially if the person has a weapon or item to hurt themself.

Searching for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to lethal means-whether that is online or physically in the moment of despair. 

Someone talking, writing, or posting on social media about death and suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.

Warning Signs
The warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.
  • Talking or writing about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly and irrationally
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Sharp drop in performance
  • Giving away possessions
Risk Factors

Risk factors do not cause or predict a suicide, rather they are characteristics that make it more likely an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide.

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Local epidemics of suicide (clusters)
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached
Health Risk Factors​

Certain health factors play a major role in suicide ideation.

  • Mood Disorders – particularly bipolar and depression
  • Depression present in 72% of those who died by suicide
  • Schizophrenia - Estimated 10% of schizophrenic population dies by suicide
  • Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders – more likely to engage in self-injury than suicide
  • At greatest risk in the period just following release from mental health treatment
  • Substance Abuse – alcohol is factor in over 50% of victims
  • Serious physical health conditions including pain
  • Traumatic brain injury
Suicidal Characteristics

Someone considering suicide may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics.

Words

Someone thinking about suicide might talk about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain
Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to painful event, loss or change:

  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue
Emotions

People considering suicide often display one or more of following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement
Protective Factors

Protective factors are characteristics that make a person less likely to engage in suicidal behavior.

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions
  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way
  • Strong connections to family and community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
Groups at Elevated Risk

Certain groups are have increased suseptibility to suicide ideation.

  • Prior Suicidal Behavior – most important factor in estimating the likelihood of further suicidal acts, risk increases by 40%
  • Individuals with a current suicide plan
  • Individuals with mental disorders (over 90% of suicide victims suffer from some form of mental disorder)
  • Recent divorcees (especially males)
  • Recently Unemployed individuals
  • Any individual who has experienced loss or change
  • Individuals in rural areas & those with limited access to resources
  • Individuals with life stress and mental pain
  • Family history - modeling
  • LGBTQ individuals
  • The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Based on these factors, do you recognize someone at risk?

If you think someone may be contemplating suicide the following recommendations have been shown to reduce the risk.

  • Find a time to privately let the person know what you have observed and express your concern.  Stay calm and listen carefully to learn what the individual is thinking and feeling.
  • Be supportive but direct; ask them are they considering taking their own life. If they express a sense of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, be sympathetic, but realize the person needs professional help.  Do not leave them alone or promise confidentiality. 

Attempt to reach agreement on a safety plan that may include but not limited to:

  • Offer to help them eliminate access to lethal means, firearms, pill, etc.
  • Convince them to seek professional help and be willing to accompany them.
  • Convey to them a sense of hope and remind them that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
  • Talk to a family member to insure they are aware of the risk.

Once the person is safe, follow up to see how they are doing.

Studies and experts in the field generally agree these recommendations tend to reduce the risk of suicide. 

Please visit our resource page for links to emergency services and mental health and counseling professionals.