Warning Signs

Here are a few other warning signs of suicide:

  • Increased alcohol and drug use

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community

  • Dramatic mood swings

  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 911:

  • Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon

  • Giving away possessions

  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

Reference (NAMI, 2019)

Risk Factors

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  • Family history of suicide

  • Substance abuse. Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.

  • Intoxication. More than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death

  • Access to firearms

  • A serious or chronic medical illness

  • Gender.  Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide.

  • A history of trauma or abuse

  • Prolonged stress

  • A recent tragedy or loss

Reference  (NAMI, 2019)

Protective Factors

Protective factors are personal or environmental characteristics that help protect people from suicide.

Major protective factors for suicide include:

  • Effective behavioral health care

  • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions

  • Life skills (including problem solving skills and coping skills, ability to adapt to change)

  • Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life

  • Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide

(SPRC, 2019)

Starting the Conversation

There are a few ways to approach a suicide-crisis:

  • Talk openly and honestly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?”

  • Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills

  • Calmly ask simple and direct questions, like “Can I help you call your psychiatrist?”

  • If there are multiple people around, have one person speak at a time

  • Express support and concern

  • Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice

  • Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong

  • If you’re nervous, try not to fidget or pace

  • Be patient

"Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively.  If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they’re going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they’re talking. Instead of “arguing” or trying to disprove any negative statements they make (“Your life isn’t that bad!”), try active listening techniques such as reflecting their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.  Let them know that mental health professionals are trained to help people understand their feelings and improve mental wellness and resiliency."

Reference (NAMI, 2019)

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If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.