Q: What signs should I look for if I’m worried that someone may be suicidal?

A: According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, (AFSP), If you are concerned about a friend or family member, pay attention to any changes in behavior or the presence of brand new behaviors. The largest concern lies within the behavior as it relates to a traumatic event, a loss or a change in the person’s life. Most individuals will exhibit one or more of the warning signs either through things they say or things they do.

Things the person may talk about:

  • Feeling like he or she is a burden to others….. “I am such a burden to you.”
  • Feeling like he or she is trapped in their current situation….. “I feel like I’m trapped. No matter how hard I try, things just don’t get better.”
  • The individual is experiencing unbearable pain either physically or mentally….. “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, It hurts so much…..”
  • The Having no reason to live, “I just don’t have any reason to be here……”
  • Killing themselves, “I feel like one day, I’m really gonna do it……”

Things the person may do:

  • Start using or increase his or her use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly— doing things without caution; acting carelessly or irresponsible.
  • Withdrawing from activities and social settings
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Exhibiting aggression and/or rage

General Mood:

  • Depressed
  • Loss of interest / lack of motivation even for things the person typically enjoys
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

Q:Are there any risk factors?

A: conditions that could possibly increase the chance that a person may attempt suicide are as follows:

Health Related: 

  • Mental health conditions
  • Depression
  • Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Psychotic disorders, or psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain

Environment Related: 

  • A traumatic or stressful life event that may have included a death, a divorce, or a job loss
  • A Prolonged stressful event such as, workplace harassment, bullying, divorce or other relationship problems, and unemployment
  • The person has access to lethal means including weapons an/or drugs
  • Witnessed or experienced a loved one’s suicide, or was privy to the graphic and/or sensationalized accounts of the suicide

The Person’s History: 

  • He or she has attempted suicide in the past either once or multiple times
  • There is a family history of suicide attempts