Warning Signs and Risk Factors

WARNING SIGNS

People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. The more warnings, the greater the risk.

Talk

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves.
  • Having no reason to live.
  • Being a burden to others.
  • Seeking revenge.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Unbearable pain.

Behavior

A person’s suicide risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased, especially if it’s related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Acting recklessly.
  • Withdrawing from activities.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Giving away prized possession.
  • Suffering from Panic attacks.

 

RISK FACTORS

Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life. The more risk factors, the higher the risk.

Environmental Factors

  • Contagion would include exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide.
  • Access to Lethal Means including firearms and drugs.
  • Prolonged Stress Factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems, and unemployment.
  • Stressful Life Events which may include a death, divorce, or job loss.

Medical Factors

  • Mental Health Problems.
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Historical Factors

  • Previous Suicide Attempts.
  • Family History of Suicide Attempts.

 

IF YOU SUSPECT SOMEONE IS AT RISK FOR SUICIDE

  • Take it seriously.
  • Do not leave them alone.
  • Have them call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Help them remove lethal means like firearms and drugs.
  • Call or escort them to an emergency room, counseling service, or psychiatrist.
  • In an emergency, call 911.