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Fast Facts

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Suicide: Warning Signs and Risk Factors

 

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Suicide is preventable

It’s important to understand that suicide is often the result of a combination of factors. It’s also crucial that we know what to look for when someone is already in suicidal crisis.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are internal or external conditions that increase the likelihood that someone will attempt suicide. This list is adapted directly from the list developed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

1. HEALTH FACTORS

  • Mental health conditions
  • Depression
  • Substance use problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Conduct disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Chronic pain or other serious health condition
  • Traumatic brain injury

2. ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

  • Access to lethal means
  • Prolonged stress
  • Stressful life events or major life changes
  • Exposure to suicide, including loss of a loved one or graphic portrayal in media

3. HISTORICAL FACTORS

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma

 

Warning Signs

Look for these warning signs if you’re concerned that someone you know is at risk of suicide. Nearly all people who die by suicide show at least one of these signs. This list is also adapted directly from the list developed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

 

What They Say

A person in suicidal crisis may talk about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain (physical or emotional)

 

What They Do

A person who is suicidal might:

  • Start using more alcohol and drugs

  • Look for ways to end their lives, including online searches for possible methods

  • Withdraw from activities

  • Isolate from family, friends, and loved ones

  • Sleep too much or too little

  • “Say their goodbyes” to others

  • Give away valued possessions

  • Become aggressive

  • Become fatigued

 

How They Feel

A person actively thinking about suicide might show that they feel:

  • Depressed

  • Anxious

  • Uninterested in activities they once enjoyed

  • Irritable

  • Humiliated

  • Agitated

  • Enraged

What can you do?

If you’re concerned that someone may attempt to take their life, take your concerns seriously. You can:

  • Encourage them to reach out for help, including texting us at 741741 (in the United States)

  • Text us at 741741 (in the United States) yourself on their behalf

  • If you believe the person is at critical and immediate risk, call 911.

 
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