Suicide, taking your own life, is a tragic reaction to stressful life situations — and all the more tragic because suicide can be prevented. Whether you’re considering suicide or know someone who feels suicidal, learn suicide warning signs and how to reach out for immediate help and professional treatment. You may save a life — your own or someone else’s.
It may seem like there’s no way to solve your problems and that suicide is the only way to end the pain. But you can take steps to stay safe — and start enjoying your life again.
For immediate help
If you think you may attempt suicide, get help now:
• Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:
• Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
• Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
• Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
• Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
• Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
• Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
• Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
• Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
• Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
• Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there’s no other logical explanation for doing this
• Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
• Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
Children and teenagers
Suicide in children and teenagers can follow stressful life events. What a young person sees as serious and insurmountable may seem minor to an adult — such as problems in school or the loss of a friendship. In some cases, a child or teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances that he or she may not want to talk about, such as:
• Having a psychiatric disorder, including depression
• Loss or conflict with close friends or family members
• History of physical or sexual abuse
• Problems with alcohol or drugs
• Physical or medical issues, for example, becoming pregnant or having a sexually transmitted infection
• Being the victim of bullying
• Being uncertain of sexual orientation
• Reading or hearing an account of suicide or knowing a peer who died by suicide
If you have concerns about a friend or family member, asking about suicidal thoughts and intentions is the best way to identify risk.
Suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide take an emotional toll. For instance, you may be so consumed by suicidal thoughts that you can’t function in your daily life. And while many attempted suicides are impulsive acts during a moment of crisis, they can leave you with permanent serious or severe injuries, such as organ failure or brain damage.
For those left behind after a suicide — people known as survivors of suicide — grief, anger, depression and guilt are common.