Suicide Warning Signs

There are many possible warning signs of suicide, some of which are included below.

Almost everyone thinking about or planning suicide displays some warning signs or clues, especially in the week or two before the final act. Warning signs signal a crisis and demand immediate action.


Depressed or anxious mood Talks of suicide, plans for how, when and where
Increased use of alcohol or drugs Refuses help
“Roller coaster” moodiness Agitated, restless, may pick fights
Changes in everyday behaviors Gives away favorite things, writes a will
Overly pessimistic Shows SUDDEN improvement in mood (Suicide euphoria)
Hopelessness or Helplessness Increased isolation
Neglects friends, self, and usual activities Uses instant messaging or phone to drop hints

Looking out for friends and loved ones is an important part of preventing suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak with a crisis worker on behalf of someone you are concerned about. The crisis workers have access to local resources, and can help you identify ways to get help to your loved ones. So call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to help save a life.

Also in 2012, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services), released an excellent suicide prevention tool kit for high schools which can be downloaded here: Preventing Suicide-Toolkit for High Schools.

The MOST important thing of all is to do SOMETHING when suicidal behavior is exhibited or when you suspect a person is thinking about suicide. The words you use in response to suicidal behavior are not nearly as important as the fact that you express concern. If you reach out in a genuinely caring manner, you may very well make the difference between life and death.

Follow these helpful steps if you are concerned that a child or adolescent many be considering suicide:

1.  Show you care – Listen carefully, be genuine, and state your concern (“I am concerned about you…. about how you feel.”)

2.  Ask the question – Be direct, caring, and non-confrontational (“Are you thinking about suicide?”)

3.  Get help – DO NOT LEAVE HIM OR HER ALONE  (“You are not alone. Let me help you.”) Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the police or dial 911.

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