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Suicide: Warning Signs and What to Do

Every day, 89 people commit suicide in the United States, and studies show that more than half of American college students have considered suicide at some point in their lives. This tragic act is the 11th leading cause of death in America, with victims of all ages and economic classes. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, there are common identifiers to alert you that you or someone you know may be at risk of committing suicide. Learn the warning signs and what you can do to help a person who might be considering this fatal act.


Warning Signs of Suicide:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, like there's no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living, or having no sense of purpose in life

Are any of these examples detrimental to the person's ability to function in life and achieve his or her life goals? If so, he or she should seek professional help. If you or someone you know is in imminent danger, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


What to Do if You See Warning Signs:

  • Take the person seriously and realize that he or she is not joking but is telling you his or her plans.
  • Call 911.
  • If the danger is imminent, reach out for help by calling a suicide crisis line such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
  • Encourage the person to seek mental help.
  • Don't give up on the person. Check in with him or her constantly. Let the person know that you want him or her to be safe and well, and that professional treatment is the best way to do that.