Warning Signs of Suicide

Almost everyone who is thinking about suicide will usually give warnings or signs to people around them. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs, take them seriously and act on them.

A person might show they are considering suicide in how they feel, talk and behave.

How they feel and talk — signs include:

• Feeling alone: “I am on my own… no one cares about me anymore; no one would even notice I was gone.”
• Feeling like a burden: “They had been better off without me.”
• Feeling lack of belonging: “I do not fit in anywhere.”
• Feeling hopeless: “What is the point? Things will get no better. I cannot take this anymore.”
• Feeling guilty: “It is my fault, I am to blame.”
• Feeling trapped: “I cannot see any way out of this mess”
• Feeling damaged: “I will never be the same again.”
• Feeling helpless: “Nothing I do makes any difference, it is beyond my control and no one can help me.”

How they behave — signs include:

• talking about suicide
• previous suicide attempt/s
• abusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
• withdrawing from friends, family, and society
• appearing anxious and agitated
• having trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
• changes in mood
• change in appearance
• taking time off work
• having episodes of sudden rage and anger
• acting recklessly and engaging in risky activities
• losing interest in their appearance, such as dressing badly or not washing regularly
• putting their affairs in order
• a recent stressful event
• social withdrawal/ feeling alienated
• seeming preoccupied with internal thoughts or problem
• putting their affairs in order
• quitting activities which were previously important
• making funeral arrangements

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

• talk, draw or write about death, dying or suicide
• threaten to hurt or kill themselves
• possess or have ways to kill themselves
• stockpiling tablets or buying equipment that could harm themselves

If you notice any of these warning signs in a relative, loved one or friend, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and to share these concerns with a member of their healthcare team.

Remember that there is a big difference between thoughts and actions. Thoughts come and go and don’t have to be acted on. It’s challenging to talk to someone about their suicidal thoughts, but you might be the only person who asks.

The person’s doctor can provide a range of options for treating and managing mental health issues.

While waiting for the person to receive treatment, remove any means of suicide from their immediate environment, such as medicines, knives or other sharp objects, and household chemicals, such as bleach.

If you think there is a high risk of a person dying by suicide before they can get the professional help, do not leave them alone, unless something concerns you for your own safety.

If the person agrees, you could go together to the local hospital emergency department.