Suicide Warning Signs

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

Comments that indicate intense feelings:

  • Thinking about hurting themselves
  • Feel like they have no reason to live
  • Feel like they are a burden to others
  • Feel desperate/trapped
  • Hopeless

  • Rage or Anger

Behavioral Clues:

  • Any previous suicide attempt
  • Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Co-occurring depression, moodiness, hopelessness
  • Putting personal affairs in order
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Sudden interest or disinterest in religion

  • Drug or alcohol abuse, or relapse after a period of recovery

  • Unexplained anger, aggression and irritability

Situational Clues:

  • Being fired or being expelled from school

  • A recent unwanted move

  • Loss of any major relationship

  • Death of a spouse, child, or best friend, especially if by suicide

  • Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness

  • Sudden unexpected loss of freedom/fear of punishment

  • Anticipated loss of financial security

  • Loss of a cherished therapist, counselor or teacher

  • Fear of becoming a burden to others

What can you do?

There are 3 key steps to intervene and stop a suicide…


You must ASK them straight up.
Ask ‘are you thinking about hurting yourself?’
Or ‘have you ever had thoughts of hurting yourself, are you having those thoughts now?’


If they say yes,
Talk the person into getting help.

  • Do not leave them alone.

  • Call their closest family members to come to them.

  • Do not give up until they have agreed to seek help.

  • “Will you go with me to get help?”
  • “Will you let me help you get help?”
  • “Will you promise me not to hurt yourself until we’ve found some help?”


Make the referral.

  • Stay with them.

  • If immediate crisis, call 911 or take to Emergency Room.

  • If not immediate, contact their doctor or a local mental health provider.
  • Ensure that they will not be left alone.

  • Attend the appointment with them if possible.


The best referral
-Take the person directly to someone who can help.
The next best referral
-Get a commitment from them to accept help, then making the arrangements to get that help.
The third best referral
-Give them referral information and try to get a good faith commitment not to complete or attempt suicide. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome

Suicidal people often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more.


  • Follow up after the appointment.

  • Continue to check on the individual at intervals to see how they are doing.

  • Be Their Friend. Let them see you care.