Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is suicidal, there’s plenty you can do to help save a life by taking any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s a myth that people who talk about suicide won’t really do it!  It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide — it’s a cry for help!

Common suicide risk factors include a diagnosis of mental illness, substance use disorder, previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, trauma terminal illness, chronic pain or a recent loss or stressful life event.

Warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Talking about suicide, dying or self-harm.
  • Talking about great guilt and shame.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live.
  • Feeling extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage.
  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain.
  • Changing behavior such as planning or researching ways to die.
  • Changing behavior by focusing on death, dying or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
  • Changing by neglecting personal appearance.
  • Changing by frequently complaining about physical symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches or tiredness.
  • Changing behavior by withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye giving away important items, or making a will.
  • Changing behavior by taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast.
  • Changing behavior by displaying severe mood swings.
  • Changing behavior by eating or sleeping more or less.
  • Changing behavior by using drugs or alcohol more often and in greater quantities.
  • Changing behavior by having a sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed.

If these warning signs apply to you or some you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: