If you are experiencing a crisis, call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Warning Signs

Four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs.

Suicide Threats

Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given warning signs through their words or behaviors. Do not ignore any suicide threats. The following statements may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

  • “I’d be better off dead.”
  • “I won’t be bothering you much longer.”
  • “You’ll be better off without me around.”
  • “I hate my life.”
  • “I am going to kill myself.”
  • Suicide threats are not always verbal.

Depression

Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide attempts. Mental or addictive disorders are associated with 90% of suicide. One in ten youth suffer from mental illness serious enough to be impaired, yet fewer than 20% receive treatment. Depression can be exhibited in many ways including the following which are detailed in more depth:

 

  • Sudden, abrupt changes in personality
  • Expressions of hopelessness and despair
  • Declining grades and school performance
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Increased irritability and aggressiveness
  • Withdrawal from family, friends and relationships
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

Anger, Increased Irritability

Recent research has identified a connection between interpersonal violence and suicide. Suicide is associated with fighting for both males and females, across all ethnic groups, and for youth living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. You should be concerned if a friend is exhibiting unusually irritable behavior.

Lack of Interest

You should be concerned if a friend suddenly starts to lose interest in sports or hobbies that they used to enjoy participating in.

  • The captain of the football team no longer wants to be on the team.
  • A dancer decides to leave the team because she does like it anymore.
  • Your music loving friend decides to quit the band.

Sudden Increase/Decrease in Appetite
  • A friend of yours that typically eats more than anyone you know barely eats or skips lunch.
  • Someone eating noticeably more without adding any additional exercise to their daily routine.

Sudden Changes in Appearance
  • He/She is not dressing as they typically would.
  • Lack of personal hygiene.

Dwindling Academic Performance

Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given warning signs through their words or behaviors. Do not ignore any suicide threats. The following statements may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

  • A model student suddenly failing classes or not turning in assignments.
  • Lack of concern for school, classes, and grades.
  • Grades dropping suddenly

Preoccupation with Death and Suicide

This can be seen throughout their:

  • Essays and writings about death
  • Poems about death
  • Artwork or drawings depicting death
  • Social media posts and comments
  • Talking a lot about death or dying

Previous Suicide Attempts

Youth who have attempted suicide are at risk to do it again. In fact, they are eight times more likely than youth who have never attempted suicide to make another suicide attempt.

  • One out of three suicide deaths is not the individual’s first attempt.
  • The risk for completing suicide is more than 100 times greater during the first year after an attempt.
  • Take any instance of deliberate self-harm seriously.

Final Arrangements

Once the decision has been made to end their life, some young people begin making final arrangements.

  • Giving away prized or favorite possessions
  • Putting their affairs in order
  • Saying good-bye to family and friends
  • Making funeral arrangements

By themselves, many of these observations are not sure signs that someone is suicidal, but could mean that they are struggling with issues in their lives and could use help. If these issues are not addressed or treated, they can result in suicidal thoughts or attempts.

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