Most people who die by suicide have a mental disorder. It may be a depressive or substance abuse disorder. Many of the warning signs of suicidal feelings are also signs of depression.
People at risk of suicide may have any of these:
Changes in eating and sleep habits
Loss of interest in usual activities
Pulling away from friends and family members
Acting out behaviors
Alcohol and drug use
Not caring about personal appearance
Excessive risk taking
Fixation on death and dying
Increased physical complaints linked to emotional distress, like stomachaches, headaches, and extreme tiredness
Loss of interest in work, school, and community
Feelings of boredom
Feelings of wanting to die
Lack of response to praise
A person is at risk if they show signs of plans to die by suicide. They may:
Give away favorite possessions and throw away important belongings
Becomes suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
Express bizarre thoughts
Say "I want to kill myself"
Say "I'm going to commit suicide"
Say "I won't be a problem much longer"
Say "If anything happens to me, I want you to know ...."
Write 1 or more suicide notes
The warning signs of suicide may seem like other medical problems. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Take threats of suicide as a cry for help. Always take statements of suicidal feelings, thoughts, behaviors, or plans very seriously. Any person who expresses thoughts of suicide needs help right away.
If someone is threatening suicide, immediately:
Take the person seriously.
Don't leave the person alone.
Involve other people. Contact friends and family members.
Ask direct questions.
Acknowledge the person's feelings.
Don't promise confidentiality.
Take the person to the nearest emergency room, contact a mental health professional, or call 911 right away.
Keep possibly harmful objects hidden.
Prepare for the person to need to stay in the hospital, if the healthcare provider advises.