Suicide Intervention and Prevention

Major Warning Signs of an Impending Suicide Attempt

If your loved one has one or more of the above risk factors, watch and listen carefully for these warning signs:

  • Frequent talking or thinking about death and dying

  • Tempting fate by taking risks, especially while driving or crossing busy streets

  • Losing interest in most things once cared about deeply

  • Putting affairs in order such as tying up loose ends or changing a will

  • Saying things like "you would be better off if I wasn't here"; "I want out"

  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless.

  • Saying things like, "I wake up every day wishing I hadn't"

  • Visiting and calling people to say good bye.

Of special concern is a history of a previous attempt at suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20% and 50% of people who complete a suicide plan have made a previous attempt.

Suicide attempts can be the result of a longstanding problem that has just become worse because of a recent negative event. The event can precipitate that final push over the edge because of the feeling that the pain can only continue or get worse. The thought that things could get better is not considered a possibility.

Paradoxically, be especially aware of your loved ones behavior if he or she seems to be having "good" days and recovering from an episode of depression. Your loved one may have mustered the necessary energy to take action on suicidal thoughts. The decision brings relief, and death to your loved one has become a "rational" means to end ongoing and unbearable pain.

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