9 Suicide Warning Signs You May Not Know
Death is never an enjoyable subject, but it’s even worse when you consider that over 10 million American adults reported having suicidal thoughts in 2017 (the most recent year of available data). That same year, 47,173 Americans committed suicide. As suicide rates continue to climb in the US, it’s increasingly critical to learn the most common suicide warning signs.
Warning signs of suicide risk are great to know for when you need them, but they’re also a reminder to check in on your friends (even the “healthy” ones!) and have those difficult conversations.
9 Must-Know Suicide Warning Signs
Preventing suicide is a big job and should definitely include the help of a mental health professional. But knowing these suicide warning signs could help save a loved one.
- Threats or comments about killing oneself – Known as “suicidal ideation,” something like “I wish I wasn’t here” can quickly escalate. Even if someone says “it’d be easier to just die!” as a joke, be the one who asks a question rather than laughs reluctantly.
- Increased alcohol and/or drug use – Ask about any odd usage. Share your thoughts and feelings about the usage and ask for theirs. If they discuss using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with negative feelings or suicidal thoughts, encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
When suicide seems likely, encourage the person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If they are in significant danger of injuring themselves, CALL 911.
- Aggressive behavior – Comment on aggression and talk about it. Be willing to hear things you may not want to.
- Social withdrawal from friends, family, and community – Take note of avoidance and goodbyes said to friends and family. These could indicate imminent suicide risk. You never know how close someone is to the edge.
- Dramatic mood swings – You might expect a suicidal person to seem sad and depressed, but choosing suicide can evoke relief. Quickly shifting from despair to calm can be a sign of “solving a problem” through suicide.
- Talking, writing, or thinking about death – Conversations around death (in general) can be an indicator of deeper thoughts. And if you find something questionable, ask a question!
- Impulsive or reckless behavior – “YOLO” is one thing, not caring about life is another.
- Putting affairs in order – People often prepare and give away possessions when they’ve made the decision to end their life. Even young people may suddenly end a quarrel or “take care of things” if they’ve already decided.
- Making plans – Notice any plans to buy, steal, or borrow the tools needed to complete suicide (think buying a firearm or stockpiling prescription medication).
Hopefully, these suicide warning signs help you begin conversations and encourage friends and family to get the help they need. If you are ever in doubt about your’s or anyone else’s mental health, call 911.
From our family to yours.