Warning Signs

Can you recognize the signs?

People who are in danger of taking their own lives may try to reach out to others - sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Rarely will at-risk individuals immediately volunteer the information that they are thinking of harming themselves. Instead they might exhibit some of the following warning signs:

  • Talking about suicide, death, or preoccupation with dying. Might say, “I wish I were dead” or “People would be better off if I am not around” or “Soon you won’t have to worry about me” or “I just can’t take it anymore. I am done.”
  • Has a suicidal plan and the means to carry it through (note: many attempts, especially in youth are impulsive. Thus, absence of a plan is not evidence of absence of risk)
  • Trouble eating or sleeping (sleeping all the time, unable to sleep at all, not able to eat or overeating)
  • Intensity of distress and agitation accompanied by depression.
  • Significant changes in behavior and/or personality
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities, work, school, hobbies, or social interactions
  • Deteriorating physical appearance
  • Giving away prized possessions and saying goodbye
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Increased drug and/or alcohol use
  • Statements about hopelessness, or worthlessness or feeling like a burden to others
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Sudden happiness or calmness following a depressed mood
  • Obsession with suicidal means (guns, knives, hanging materials)
  • Problems in school or work performance
  • Chronic pain or frequent complaints of physical symptoms
  • An inability to concentrate, trouble remembering things
  • Stockpiling medications
  • Buying a gun
  • Taking a sudden interest or losing interest in religion
  • Getting ones affairs in order - paying off debt, getting a will, getting life insurance
  • Scheduling medical appointments for vague symptom