Warning Signs of Acute Suicide Risk

The following are not always communicated directly or outwardly:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Additional Warning Signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets

Youth Suicide Warning Signs:

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above, such as
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
    • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability

How you can help

1. Ask if they are okay or if they are having thoughts of suicide

2. Express your concern about what you are observing in their behavior

3. Listen attentively and non-judgmentally

4. Reflect what they share and let them know they have been heard

5. Tell them they are not alone

6. Let them know there are treatments available that can help

7. If you are or they are concerned, guide them to additional professional help

Where to get professional help

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

  • A mental health professional

  • A hospital emergency department

Important Facts:

Suicidal thinking is usually associated with problems that can be treated.

Thoughts of suicide can be cause by emotional disorders. Sometimes they may get in the way of seeing other options. Most people who receive appropriate care improve or recover completely. Even if you have received treatment before, you should know that different treatments work better for different people in different situations. Several times are sometime necessary before the right treatment for you is found.

Others might see solutions

If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that solutions don’t exists, only that you are currently unable to see them. A therapist or counselor, or sometimes a friend, can help you to see solutions to your problems, even if you think you’ve tried everything.

Suicidal crisis are almost always temporary

Although it might seem as if you will always feel this way, it is important to realize that crises are usually time-limited. Solutions are found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Suicide is someone referred to as “a permanent solutions to a temporary problem.” Don’t let suicide rob you of better times in your future. There are many, many people who suffered feelings of despair and thoughts of suicide but made it through to a long and fulfilling life.

Problems are seldom as great as they appear at first

Family conflict, relationship issues, grades, peer pressure, and loss of important people in our lives – all such stressful events can seem catastrophic at the time they are happening. Then, months or years later, they are things of the past. Some of these challenges may even increase your resilience and resolve in life. If you imagine yourself five years down the road you may see that a problem that currently seems catastrophic will pass.

Reasons for living can help a person in pain

You may be able to find more reasons to live if you think about what has given your life meaning or what is important to you. Family ties, your religion, love of art or nature, and dreams for the future are just a few of the many things in our lives that provide meaning and gratification. It is sometimes difficult to recall these things during times of emotional distress. You may need help to explore and reconnect to your reasons for living, as well as help to successfully work through reasons that have contributed to your thoughts of dying.

If you or someone you know is suicidal and you need immediate help, call 911. Otherwise, please make an appointment with me at 484-213-3616 or call another professional.

Remember: There are other ways to stop the pain!


Information was derived from the following resources:

American Association of Suicidology

National Center or the Prevention of Youth Suicide

42 Henley Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
(484) 213-3616

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.