Warning signs of suicide

Person lying in bed on their side looking at their phone

Warning signs of suicide

Warning signs for suicide are classified by immediate and serious risk.

Immediate risk

Immediate risks include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a method
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Serious risk

Serious risks include:

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other substances
  • Acting anxious, agitated or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Prior risk factors

Some risk factors, like environment, mental health disorders or traumatic events can increase a person’s risk of suicide. These can include:

  • Prior suicide attempt(s)
  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • Mental disorders, particularly depression or other mood disorders
  • Access to lethal items or materials (guns, toxins)
  • Knowing someone who died by suicide, especially a family member
  • Social isolation
  • Chronic illness
  • Lack of access to mental health care

People who have a higher risk for suicide can also be severely affected by a stressful event, called a precipitating factor, which may trigger a suicidal crisis. These events can include:

  • End of relationship or marriage
  • Death of a loved one
  • An arrest
  • Serious financial problems