Suicide Warning Signs
People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk.
What to Watch For if You Feel Someone is at Risk:
If a person talks about:
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Experiencing unbearable pain
- Having no reason to live
- Killing themselves
Specific behaviours to look out for include:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
- Acting recklessly
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
Prevention: 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain:
- Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
- Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing lethal means can make a difference.
- Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
- Help them connect: Connect with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor or mental health professional.
- Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. The number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.