12 Suicide Warning Signs

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in News, Sidebar | 0 comments

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1 (800) 273-8255. This month, we invite you to learn the warning signs and bring awareness to the second leading cause of death for youth. 

Suicide Myth

Suicide Warning Signs
  1. Suicide notesThese are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.
  2. Threats. Threats may be direct statements (“I want to die.” “I am going to kill myself”) or, unfortunately, indirect comments (“The world would be better without me”, “Nobody will miss me anyway”). Among teenagers, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.  Younger children and those who may have some delays in their development may not be able to express their feelings in words, but may provide indirect clues in the form of acting-out, violent behavior, often with threatening or suicidal comments.
  3. Previous attempts. If a child or teenager has attempted suicide in the past, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will try again. Be very observant of any friends who have tried suicide before.
  4. Depression. (helplessness/hopelessness). When symptoms of depression include strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, a child or adolescent is possibly at greater risk for suicide. Watch out for behaviors or comments that indicate that your friend is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of their future.
  5. “Masked” depression. Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay, and alcohol/substance abuse. While your friend does not acted “depressed,” their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety.
  6. Final arrangements. This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it might be giving away prized possessions such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.
  7. Efforts to hurt oneself.  Self-injury behaviors are warning signs for young children as well as teenagers. Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic, jumping from heights, and scratching/cutting/marking the body.
  8. Inability to concentrate or think clearly.  Such problems may be reflected in classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores, even conversation. If your friend starts skipping classes, getting poor grades, acting up in class, forgetting or poorly performing chores around the house or talking in a way that suggests they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.
  9. Changes in physical habits and appearance.  Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss, disinterest in appearance or hygiene.
  10. Sudden changes in personality, friends, behaviors. Parents, teachers and friends are often the best observers of sudden changes in suicidal students.  Changes can include withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, loss of involvement in activities that were once important, and avoiding friends.
  11. Death and suicidal themes. These might appear in classroom drawings, work samples, journals or homework.
  12. Plan/method/access. A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.

Adapted fromA National Tragedy: Preventing Suicide in Troubled Children and Youth,” available at www.nasponline.org. Modified from material posted on the NASP website in September 2001.

Additional Resources

New National Suicide Prevention Chat Line: An Innovation for Teens

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Coping with Loss From Suicide

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention

Circles of Support for Suicide Attempt Survivors and Their Loved Ones:

Circles of Supports

Suicide Prevention Aimed at LGBQT Youth

The Trevor Project 

Explaining Suicide to Children


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