Suicide Warning Signs

Every year, thousands of people die by suicide. More than a million others attempt it, and millions more think about it. Death by suicide is an extremely complex issue that causes pain to hundreds of thousands of people every year around the world.

According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. This corresponds to an age-standardised suicide rate of around 11.5 per 100 000 people – a figure equivalent to someone dying of suicide every 40 seconds. Yet suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based interventions. One way to help is to recognise the clues that someone may be planning to kill themselves.

Warning Signs:

  • People who take their lives don’t want to die, but to end their pain. Don’t dismiss their talk of suicide as just threats. If you notice any signs that they may be thinking about harming themselves, get help.
  • Becomes withdrawn. The person avoids close friends and family, loses interest in activities and social events, and becomes isolated.
  • Focuses on death. Some people talk openly about wanting to die. Or they fixate on the topic of death and dying. They may research ways to kill themselves or buy a gun, knife or pills.
  • Shows despair. The person may talk openly about unbearable pain, or feeling like they are a burden to others.
  • Makes plans. The person may take steps to prepare for death, like updating a will, giving away stuff, and saying goodbye to others. Some may write a suicide note.
  • Shows swings in mood or sleep. Often, the person may be depressed, anxious, sad, or angry. They may also be very irritable, moody, or aggressive. But they can suddenly turn calm once they have decided to go through with the suicide. Then they may sleep a lot more or a lot less than usual.
  • Drinks or takes drugs. Substance abuse raises the chance of suicide. Using a lot of drugs and alcohol may be an attempt to dull the pain or to harm themselves.
  • Acts recklessly. The person may take dangerous chances, like driving drunk or having risky sex.

These are just a few warning signs to keep an eye out for. There are many more that you may notice.


Author: Candace Nagoor