Warning Signs for Suicide

There are a number of potential “clues” that may indicate that a person is considering suicide. Sometimes these clues are more obvious, but at times they are subtle. It is important to remember that the more warning signs that exist, the greater the risk. We cannot predict with 100% accuracy if or when a person will attempt suicide, but the following signs may indicate that a person is at risk. Here are a few of the things you may observe or hear:

  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Feeling trapped
  • Lack of purpose
  • Fear of burdening others
  • Irritability, anger and/or agitation
  • Problems with sleep and/or appetite
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Lack of concern about personal welfare (e.g., engaging in risky behaviors)
  • Increased drug/alcohol use, or relapse after a period of recovery
  • Talking or writing about violent themes, death, or suicide
  • Direct (“If such and such doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”) and indirect (“I’m so tired of this. I can’t go on.”) statements about suicide
  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves, such as pills, weapons, or other means

Additionally, a number of situations may precipitate a suicidal crisis, such as:

  • Academic problems (e.g., poor performance, potential dismissal from school)
  • Ending of an important relationship
  • Death of a loved one
  • Exposure to suicidal acts of others
  • Financial problems (e.g., loss of financial aid, scholarship)
  • A serious illness or injury