What if someone I know is considering suicide?

  • do not leave the person alone.

  • assist the individual in seeking immediate help from a personal physician, the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911.

  • remove any access the person may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications.

Source: Adapted from The National Institute of Mental Health

Suicide Warning Signs

  • Talking about dying - mention of dying, shooting, jumping, or any other types of self-harm.

  • Recent loss - includes recent deaths, loss of relationship or divorce, or job loss.

  • Loss of interests - lowered interest in hobbies, friends, religious faith, sex, or activities previously enjoyed.

  • Changes in personality - consistently apathetic, withdrawn, sad or irritable.

  • Change in behavior - unable to complete daily activities, can't focus on school work.

  • Change in sleep patterns - oversleeps or wakes up early. Insomnia and nightmares also possible.

  • Change in eating habits - loses or gains weight due to loss of appetite or overeating.

  • Low self-esteem - loss of self-worth. Feeling guilty, worthless, and useless.

  • No hope for the future - thinking things won't get any better or things will never change.

Suicide warning signs in teens

Additional warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide:

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities

  • Violent or rebellious behavior, running away

  • Drug and alcohol use

  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance

  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline 
    in the quality of schoolwork

  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.

  • Not tolerating praise or rewards

Source: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide warning signs in older adults

Additional warning signs that an elderly person may be 
contemplating suicide:

  • Reading material about death and suicide

  • Disruption of sleep patterns

  • Increased alcohol or prescription drug use

  • Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders

  • Stockpiling medications

  • Sudden interest in firearms

  • Social withdrawal or elaborate good-byes

  • Rush to complete or revise a will

Source: University of Florida

Risk factors for suicide

Psychiatric Disorders

  • Approximately 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illnesses such as major depression, bipolar depression, or another depressive illness, including schizophrenia.

  • Alcohol or drug abuse, particularly when combined with depression

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or another anxiety disorder

  • Bulimia or anorexia nervosa

  • Personality disorders, especially borderline or antisocial personality disorder.

Other risk factors:

  • Past History of Attempted Suicide: Between 20 and 50 percent of people who kill themselves had previously attempted suicide. Those who have made serious suicide attempts are at a much higher risk for actually taking their lives.

  • Genetic Predisposition: Family history of suicide, suicide attempts, depression or other psychiatric illness.

  • Neurotransmitters: A clear relationship has been demonstrated between low concentrations of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleactic acid (5-HIAA) in cerebrospinal fluid and an increased incidence of attempted and completed suicide in psychiatric patients.

  • Impulsivity: Impulsive individuals are more apt to act on suicidal impulses.

  • Sex: Males are three to five times more likely to die by suicide than females.

  • Age: Elderly Caucasian males have the highest suicide rates.

Source: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention