Recognizing Suicide Warning Signs in Others

People who are thinking about suicide may not know they are depressed. Certain thoughts, feelings, and actions can be signals that let you know a person may need help. Watch for these warning signs of suicide.

Man and woman sitting on couch, woman has arm around man looking at him with concern. Man looks very serious.

Warning signs

  • Threats or talk of suicide

  • Buying a gun or other weapon or hoarding medicines

  • Statements such as “I won't be a problem much longer” or “Nothing matters”

  • Giving away items they own, making out a will, or planning their funeral

  • Suddenly being happy or calm after being depressed

  • Expressing feelings of being a burden to others

  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors

  • Withdrawing from people and activities

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or being trapped

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Feeling there is no reason to live

  • Calling people to say goodbye

  • Experiencing chronic, unbearable pain

To be sure, ask

If you think a person you care about could be suicidal, ask, “Have you thought about suicide?” Most people will tell you the truth. If they say “yes,” they may already have a plan for how and when they will attempt it. Find out as much as you can. The more detailed the plan, and the easier it is to carry out, the more danger the person is in right now. Tell the person you are there for them and do not want them to harm him or herself. Do not wait to get help for the person.

For more information

Contact a local mental health clinic or the following:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)

    www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

  • National Institute of Mental Health

    866-615-6464

    www.nimh.nih.gov

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness

    800-950-6264

    www.nami.org

  • Mental Health America

    800-969-6642

    www.nmha.org

  • National Suicide Hotline

    800-784-2433 (800-273-SUICIDE)

In an emergency, call 911

 Never leave the person alone. A person who is actively suicidal needs immediate psychiatric attention and continuous supervision. The person should never be left out of sight. Call 911 or a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK). You can also take the person to the closest hospital emergency room (ER).