Warning Signs


Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Threatening to, talking or writing about suicide
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Seeking methods to kill oneself
  • Agitation, especially combined with sleeplessness
  • Giving away prized possessions, making final arrangements, putting affairs in order
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or society
  • Nightmares
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Recent loss of a friend or family member through death, suicide, or divorce
  • Sudden dramatic decline or improvement in work/school work
  • Themes of death or depression in conversation, writing, reading or art
  • Neglect of personal appearance
  • No longer interested in favorite activities or hobbies
  • Chronic headaches, stomach aches, fatigue
  • Taking unnecessary risks/recklessness
  • Sudden, unexpected loss of freedom or fear of punishment/humiliation

Protective Factors for Suicide

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
  • Skill in solving problems, resolving conflict and handling disputes non-violently
  • Strong connections to family
  • Strong connections to community support
  • Effective professional care for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a number of different types of professional help
  • Being supported to seek help
  • Mental and medical health care relationships that are ongoing
  • No access to highly lethal means of suicide

Risk Factors for Suicide

Biopsychosocial Risk Factors

  • Mental disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • Hopelessness
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Some major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Job or financial loss
  • Relationship or social loss
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence

Sociocultural Risk Factors

  • Lack of social support
  • Sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with seeking help
  • Barriers to accessing mental health care and substance abuse treatment
  • Certain cultural and religious beliefs (those that believe suicide is noble)
  • Exposure to, and influence of others who have died by suicide