While it is not possible to predict suicide with any certainty, most people contemplating suicide show direct and indirect signs of distress. If we know how to recognize those signs, we can intervene to help. The following signs should prompt you to seek immediate help for you or a loved one:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless, feeling like a burden, or having no reason to live
If You or Someone You Know Needs Help
- Call 1.800.273.8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line
- Contact your mental health professional
For more information about getting treatment, please visit our Psychiatry Healthcare and Clinics page.
If you are suicidal or are a danger to yourself or to others, please call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room immediately.
These organizations also offer suicide prevention resources:
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you are suicidal, please call 800.273.TALK (8255). You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline website also offers a number of resources for those looking for support.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is the only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Articles & Facts
Learn more about suicide and what you can do if you or a loved one is displaying signs of suicidal thoughts or actions.
CDC Overview & Facts https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/index.html
CDC Preventing Suicide https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-factsheet.pdf
In addition to the resources above, these organizations offer support pointed specifically toward parents and teens.
- Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
- Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions, but others are either unaware of the significance of these warnings or do not know how to respond to them.
- Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
- Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, racial and ethnic boundaries.
- Suicidal behavior is complex and not a response to one problem that a person is experiencing. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time.
- Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, they may themselves be at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.
Warning signs are similar to risk factors, in that their presence increases the likelihood that an individual will engage in suicidal behavior. However they differ in that warning signs warrant greater attention and more immediate intervention. Warning signs indicate that the individual may be considering suicide. While there is no foolproof method of determining that someone is thinking of hurting him or herself, the following signs might indicate that someone is considering suicide.
The following warning signs indicate that the individual needs intervention:
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Anxiety, agitation, being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Expressing feelings that life is meaningless or that there is no reason to live
- Feeling desperate or trapped, like there's no way out
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
- Diagnosed with a mental illness, particularly depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia
- Certain behaviors can also serve as warning signs, particularly when they are not characteristic of the person's normal behavior. These include:
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
- Engaging in violent or self-destructive behavior
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, or your school or community are struggling to cope with a suicide loss, here are some resources that can help. These resources are designed to help survivors of suicide loss address their complex practical and emotional needs.