Suicide is a public health issue that impacts individuals from a variety of backgrounds and of all ages. Every year, millions of Americans are directly affected by the more than 44,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts made by friends or loved ones (source: AFSP). While these numbers are staggering, suicide is preventable and anyone can help by readying themselves with some knowledge on facts, risk factors, warning signs, and what to do if you or someone you love is in a crisis situation.
Please keep in mind that the information on these pages in no way substitutes for seeking professional help or advice from your doctor. With this information we simply intend to introduce you to helpful information on suicide prevention.
Learning the warning signs of suicide could save someone’s life. While an individual may not be experiencing all of these warning signs, most will experience more than one and for an extended period of time. Some are obvious while some are more subtle, so it’s important to know what to look for and what to do next if you do notice these behaviors in someone you care about. With each of these warning signs, watch for a change from the individual’s typical behavior. Click on the warning signs below to learn more.
You may notice them withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities or friends.
They may begin sleeping too much or begin sleeping too little.
This could look like driving without a license, drug and alcohol use, shoplifting, driving at excessive speeds etc., because they no longer care what happens to them.
Increased use of drugs or alcohol, or beginning to drink when they have never shown interest in it before.
This is one of the most commonly overlooked warning signs of depression and/or suicide-if they continue to experience unexplained aches and pains in their body.
People who are thinking about suicide may say goodbye to their friends and family.
Possessions the individual has previously shown great interest and adoration for oftentimes can be given away because they think they will no longer have a use for them.
People who do this are not simply “looking for attention” as we often hear people say. Take this very seriously! Whether it be conversation with a friend, a writing or art assignment turned in at school, a journal entry, etc.-any expression of death should be taken extremely seriously.
This often sounds like “I’m worthless.” “Nothing is going well.” “Everything is just too much.” Again, take this language very seriously.
The individual may be feeling like they are stuck in a situation or in so much pain and there is no way out. Again, feeling hopeless as if nothing can improve or there is no way out but death from their current situation.
These mood swings would be out of character for them and unexplainable.
They may be researching how to buy a gun or drugs that may be lethal on the internet or asking people about methods.
This may sound like, “Everyone would be better off without me.” “Things will be easier without me here.”
If you notice someone acting overly anxious or agitated for no explainable reason.
Unexplainable anger and rage that would be out of character for the individual.