What are the warning signs that a suicide attempt may be imminent?
Warning signs suggest that a suicide attempt may be imminent within the next 24-48 hours. Presence of multiple warning signs suggests that the risk may be greater.
Suicide Risk Warning Signs:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, including online searches for suicide-related topics or buying a firearm
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
- See the source Know the Warning Signs from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
How to help someone who is suicidal:
Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide:
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as firearms or stockpiled pills.