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Call 988 or seek immediate help from a mental health provider if you observe any of these behaviors:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill themself, or talking of wanting
    to hurt or kill themself

  • Someone seeking access to firearms, pills or other means of self-harm or suicide

  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person

Call 988 or seek mental health referral should you witness someone exhibiting any one or more of these behaviors:

  • Hopelessness

  • Rage, uncontrolled anger or revenge-seeking

  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities seemingly without thinking

  • Feeling trapped, like there's no way out

  • Increased alcohol or drug use

  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society

  • Anxiety, agitation, struggling to sleep or sleeping all the time

  • Dramatic mood changes

If you are suicidal or believe someone you know is, know that help is available, and recovery is possible. Take the risk of suicide seriously, learn the warning signs and do what you can to get yourself and the people you care about the help they need.

This list of Warning Signs for Suicide was developed by an expert review and consensus process informed by a review of relevant research and literature.  Additional information about the warning signs can be found in the following published article: Rudd, M. D., Berman, A. L., Joiner, T. E., Jr., Nock, M. K., Silverman, M. M., Mandrusiak, M., et al. (2006). Warning signs for suicide: Theory, research, and clinical applications. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 36(3), 255-262.



Risk factors include characteristics or circumstances that indicate an increase in the chance of that person dying by suicide. Risk factors are important to determine as they help alert gatekeepers (friends, family members, health professionals, etc.) of heightened suicide risk.


  • Mental disorders; particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders

  • Alcohol and other substance use disorder

  • Local clusters of suicide

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

  • Stigma associated with asking for help

  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

  • Hopelessness

  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

  • History of trauma or abuse

  • Major physical illnesses or chronic illnesses

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • Family history of suicide

  • Recent job or financial loss

  • Recent loss of relationship

  • Easy access to lethal means



Protective factors are characteristics that make a person less likely to engage in suicidal behavior. Moreover, protective factors can promote resilience and ensure connectedness with others during difficult times, thereby making suicidal behaviors less likely.

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions

  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide

  • Strong connections to family and community support

  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

  • Skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation


This list comes from SAMSHA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center document, “Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide.” To view the Examples of Risk and Protective Factors in a Social Ecological Model… click here.

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