Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide can occur without warning signs when, for example, a person finds themselves in an unbearable and overwhelming situation and decides to act on impulse.  However, if you are aware of some general suicide warning signs you may be able to help someone seek professional help and avoid the tragic consequences that always accompany a suicide.  If you are concerned about someone’s safety right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911 IMMEDIATELY!

Occasionally, a person may decide to commit suicide, without warning, based on a life situation that overwhelms them.  These might include being terminated from a job, the death of a loved one or some other deeply painful event.  However, in many cases, according to experts, those considering suicide exhibit some warning signs that may provide clues as to their intentions.

Explicit Warning Signs of Suicide

Explicit warning signs of suicide may include the following:

  • Articulable threats to harm or kill oneself.
  • Unusual preoccupation with death or suicide.
  • Unusual acquisition of a means of such as the purchase of a firearm or the unusual acquisition of pharmaceuticals that were not prescribed for the person acquiring them.

If any of these signs are present and you are concerned about someone’s safety right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911 IMMEDIATELY!

Suicide and Mental Health

There are a number of links between mental health and suicide.  You should be aware that many signs of suicide can look like general signs of depression:

  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Withdrawing from the usual circle of family and friends.
  • Unusual oversleeping.
  • Lacking a sense of life purpose.

Other signs can mimic behavior of someone suffering from bipolar disorder.  These may include:

  • Unusual feelings of rage or uncontrollable anger.
  • Engaging in risky activities or otherwise acting recklessly.
  • Feeling agitated.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Strong and substantial mood swings.

You should be also be aware that some studies have shown a link between the use of certain anti-depressants and suicide especially in children and adolescents.  The studies are showing that certain anti-depressants modify the brain in such a way that people may become prone to suicide.  Biological Psychiatry 2008.

Additionally, substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, may be a warning sign of suicide in teenagers.  Teenagers often use drugs and alcohol to cope with and mask depression.  Since substance abuse and depression are independent warning signs of possible suicide, any teenager undergoing treatment for depression or substance abuse should be screened for suicide.

What should a parent do if he/she is noticing these warning signs?

If any of these signs are present and you are concerned about someone’s safety right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911 IMMEDIATELY!  Havenwood specializes in helping teenagers who have drug and alcohol problems.  We would be happy to consult with you to determine how we can help–CALL NOW.