Warning Signs of Acute Suicide Risk

The following are not always communicated directly or outwardly:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Additional Warning Signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets

Youth Suicide Warning Signs

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
  • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability

How to Respond

If you notice any of these warning signs in anyone, you can help!

1. Ask if they are ok or if they are having thoughts of suicide
2. Express your concern about what you are observing in their behavior
3. Listen attentively and non-judgmentally
4. Reflect what they share and let them know they have been heard
5. Tell them they are not alone
6. Let them know there are treatments available that can help
7. If you are or they are concerned, guide them to additional professional help