Warning Signs of Suicide

Everyone feels sad, depressed, stressed, or angry sometimes — especially when dealing with the pressures of school, friends, and family. But some people may feel sadness or hopelessness that won't go away, along with thoughts of suicide.

You may have heard that people who talk about suicide won't actually go through with it. That's not true. People who talk about suicide may be likely to try it.

Immediate warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide include:

  • talking about suicide or death in general
  • looking online for ways to kill oneself or buying items to use in a suicide attempt
  • talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking a lot of alcohol, taking drugs, driving too fast, or cutting, for example)
  • visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • giving away possessions

What Can I Do?

Ask

If you have a friend who's talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don't wait to see if they start to feel better. Talk about it. Ask them directly if they're having thoughts of suicide. Having someone care enough to ask these questions can help save your friend's life.

Some people (both teens and adults) are reluctant to ask teens if they've been thinking about suicide or hurting themselves. They might worry that, by asking, they're planting the idea of suicide. Research has proven this to be 100% untrue. If you're worried — ask.

Asking someone if they're having thoughts about suicide can be hard. It can help to let your friend know why you're asking. For instance, you might say, "I've noticed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead. Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?" Be prepared for their answer and be ready to talk to a trusted adult at home or at school to get the help needed.

Tell

If your friend asks you to keep these thoughts a secret, let them know you care about them and need to share this with a trusted adult. It may feel like you're betraying your friend, but you should always tell a trusted adult.

Share your concerns with an adult as soon as possible. You also can turn to these resources for 24/7 help:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741
  • Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ community: 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678

The important thing is to notify a responsible adult. It may be tempting to try to help your friend on your own, but it's always safest to get help.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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