Suicide is the reaction of extremely intense feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, hopelessness, or depression, which typically involves voluntarily taking one's own life.
If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free 24-hour hotline. In the case of a life threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room.
RISK FACTORS for suicide
- Major depression (especially when combined with alcohol and/or drug abuse)
- Bipolar depression
- Alcohol abuse and dependence
- Drug abuse and dependence
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
signs of suicide
In several instances, there can be many signs that indicate a suicide, or no signs at all. Take a look below at some things that you can look for if you think someone is having suicidal thoughts.
This is both direct (ex. “I’ve decided to kill myself”) & indirect (ex. “I’m tired of life –What is the point of going on”). This may include talking, writing or even joking about suicide or death.
- “Life isn’t worth living”
- “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone”
- “I’d be better off dead”
- “I feel like there is no way out”
- “My family would be better off without me”
- "Next time I will take enough pills to do the job right"
- "You can take my (prized collection/valuables) - I don't need this stuff anymore"
- "I won't be around to deal with that"
- "I won't be in your way much longer"
- "I just can't deal with everything - life is too hard"
- "Nobody understands me - nobody feels the way I do"
- "There's nothing I can do to make it better"
- Getting affairs in order (ex. paying a debt , updating a will, taking out insurance or changing beneficiaries)
- Giving away prized possessions or money
- Signs of planning a suicide (ex. buying a weapon, obtaining poisons or medications)
- Making funeral plans
- Increase in self-destructive or violent behaviors (ex. drinking alcohol or drug use)
- Social Withdrawal
- Increased impulsivity & taking unnecessary risks
- Unrelenting low mood
- Anxiety, psychic pain, and inner tension
- Rage or anger
If you notice some of these signs in a loved one, they may be at risk for suicide and should seek professional help immediately.
*** Note: ONCE SOMEONE DECIDES TO END THEIR LIFE WITH SUICIDE, THE HOURS BEFORE DEATH ARE OFTEN FILLED WITH A KIND OF CHIPPERNESS, EVEN CALMNESS. ***
How you can help
If someone you care about is showing signs of suicidal thoughts, please take the concern seriously!
70% of all people who commit suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.
Take any warning signs of suicide seriously
Be ready and willing to listen: ASK
- Plan ahead to talk to this individual. Give yourself plenty of time for conversation and let them know that you are concerned for them. Most importantly, don't be afraid to ASK them directly if they have had thoughts of suicide.
Help them seek professional help: PERSUADE
- Before you respond to them, make sure that you've given them your full attention. After they are finished, encourage them to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Help them find a mental health professional: REFER
- You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to find resources located near to you, contact their primary care professional, or call 911 to get them the professional help that they deserve.
Things to Avoid:
- Don’t tell your loved one to “snap out of it” or “cheer up”
- Don’t assume that the situation will fix itself
- Don’t promise to keep secrets
- Don’t argue or debate on moral issues
- Don't risk your personal safety
Bullying & Suicide
Children & youth who are involved in bullying are more likely than those who are not involved in bullying to suffer with depression, have high suicidal thoughts, and make more suicidal attempts. Bullying does not cause suicide.
- Children who Bully and who also are bullied by their peers are at the greatest risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- Because there are very few studies on bullying that look at the long term correlation between bullying & suicide, we are unable to conclude that bullying experiences cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors (even though bullying is related to greater likelihoods of suicidal thoughts and behavior).
- Researchers make note that there are other risk factors (ex. Mental health problems) that appear to play a larger role in bullying and predicting suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Information above was disseminated by published material from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mayo Clinic, “Question, Persuade, Refer” by Paul Quinnett, Screening for Mental Health Inc., Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services, & Stopbullying.gov, Screening for Mental Health, Inc., World Health Organization (2014).
The information on this website is not meant as a substitute for qualified professional advice.