Warning Signs of Suicide

Eighty percent of people who died of suicide do or say something as an indicator or warning sign of what his or her intentions are.

SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices and Education)

Are you concerned about someone who may be suicidal? Fortunately, there are clear warning signs that will tell you if your friend or loved one is having thoughts of suicide. If you know the person well, you may be able to notice changes in their mood, words, or behavior. 

For example, perhaps your son or daughter stops going to soccer practice and no longer goes to parties with their friends. In addition, their grades are going downhill. Or perhaps you have a friend who is going through a traumatic breakup and tells you that his life is not worth living anymore. 

Below is a list of common warning signs that a person might be contemplating suicide. Many of these came from the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Warning Signs of a Possible Suicide Attempt

Verbal Warning Signs

If a person:

• Talks about killing themselves.
• Talks about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
• Talks about being a burden to others
• Says, “I won’t be here much longer.”
• Says, “I sometimes think it would be better for the kids if I were gone.”
• Says, “ I might as well end it all.”
• Says, “I’d be better off dead.”
• Says, “My loved ones would be better off without me.”

Behavioural Warning Signs

  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy
  • Failing grades or new lack of interest in work
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Withdrawing or isolating

Mood Warning Signs

  • Depression, anxiety, irritability
  • Humiliation, agitation, anger
  • Hopelessness or helplessness 
  • Guilt or shame
  • Numbness
  • Relief, or sudden improvement in mood after a long period of clinical depression. *

    * This is because as the depression lifts the person may regain some energy, while feelings of hopelessness remain. Their increased energy now makes it possible that they will act on their suicidal feelings. 

Life Situations to be Aware of

  • They have experienced or witnessed abuse or violence
  • Death or any kind of major loss
  • Major relationship issues
  • Financial problems
  • Significant life changes
  • Other painful events

As you read over these lists, realize that the more warning signs that you see, the more likely it is that a person is contemplating suicide. Once you have a reasonable sense that he or she may be in danger, you are ready to reach out and be of support.