Suicide Prevention - Warning Signs & Ways to Support
Schneck Medical Center - September 04, 2020

You Can Help Prevent Suicide

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This is never an easy topic to talk about, but we believe it's critical that everyone has access to trustworthy suicide prevention resources. By spreading awareness, we hope to save more lives that are threatened by suicide. But we need your help.
In this article we'll cover a few suicide warning signs, and then offer ways you can help those close to you who are struggling with this issue.

Suicide Warning Signs

There are several risk factors that contribute to an individual's susceptibility to suicide, including health, environment, and family history. You can read more about common risk factors here. Regardless of the root causes, however, certain warning signs may indicate when someone is considering suicide.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, warning signs fall into three main categories: Talk, Behavior, and Mood.


Whenever you hear someone talking about killing him- or herself, you should take it seriously. Such an individual may also talk about:
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped or overwhelmed
  • Practicing or seeking other forms of self-harm


Those struggling with suicidal thoughts often show drastic shifts in normal behavior. These can also be warning signs.
  • Substance abuse (increased use of drugs or alcohol)
  • Searching out ways to end one's life
  • Withdrawing from activities or social events
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue or aggression


In addition to talk and behavior, negative changes in mood may also indicate inclinations toward suicide.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Anger
  • Irritability
Individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts may exhibit other warning signs; the key to noticing them is staying alert to abnormal and negative shifts in talk, behavior, and mood.

How You Can Help

If you suspect or know for certain that a loved one is considering suicide, you should take the responsibility to help that person. You may be the only one who knows. This can be a frightening place to find yourself, but the stakes are too high to neglect taking action. Thankfully, you aren't alone in this. There are many resources which can help you and your loved one.
The first step is to assess the gravity of the situation. Suicide is always serious, but some scenarios are more dangerous and require more immediate action than others.

Imminent Threats

Suicide is an imminent threat if your friend could commit suicide right away. According to Verywell Mind, imminent danger also includes "a person in possession of a weapon, pills, or other means to follow through with suicide." In this instance, you should:
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Remove any lethal objects from the area
  • Stay calm and stay with your friend until help arrives

Non-Imminent Threats

A non-imminent threat is still a threat and should be taken seriously. In this instance, however, you may be able to offer longer-term help for your struggling friend or family member.
  • Be supportive and empathetic
  • Keep him or her talking by asking genuine questions
  • Don't try to "fix" things immediately—just listen
  • Discuss a prevention plan before parting ways
Helping individuals struggling with suicide often requires attentive, personal care, but he or she will likely need ongoing supplementary support—whether in the form of counseling, addiction recovery, or otherwise. We have linked to a number of resources below which you can direct friends and family to. They may also help you decipher the right next steps. Risk factors and warning signs do not make suicide inevitible; there is always hope, a better path forward—because there is always something worth living for.
Visit the Schneck Medical Health & Wellness page for further help and information.

Suicide Prevention Resources



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