Knowing the warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide could save a life

Published 11:02 am Saturday, September 10, 2022

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Early identification of signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, especially depression, is an important part of suicide prevention. The National Institute of Mental Health emphasizes that suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored.

Family and friends are often the first to identify warning signs of suicide. Taking quick action to identify mental health resources is an important first step.

If someone tells you they are going to kill themselves, do not leave them alone. Do not promise that you will keep their suicidal thoughts a secret – get help immediately.

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Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.
  • Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions.
  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Giving away important possessions.
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family.
  • Putting affairs in order, such as making a will.
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast.
  • Talking or thinking about death often.

Other serious warning signs that someone may be at risk for attempting suicide include:

  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy.
  • Making a plan or looking for ways to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling great guilt or shame.
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often.
  • Acting anxious or agitated.
  • Changing eating or sleeping habits.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.