Warning Signs, Risk Factors and Protective Factors for Suicide 

Some behaviors may indicate that a person is at immediate risk for suicide. The following three should prompt you to immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to contact your local mental health professional.

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

Other behaviors may also indicate a serious risk—especially if the behavior is new, has increased, and/or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Protective Factors for Suicide Prevention 

  • Effective clinical care and counseling for mental, physical and substance use disorders 
  • Easy access to mental health and substance abuse counseling and support for help-seeking 
  • Restricting access to highly lethal means of suicide 
  • Strong connections to family and community support 
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships 
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent handling of disputes 
  • Cultural identification, spirituality and family connectedness!