Suicide Awareness and Prevention

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One American dies by suicide every 11 minutes. Suicide is preventable. There are many things you can do to help someone who may be at risk for suicide or is experiencing a mental health crisis. It's important to know the warning signs so you can potentially save a life. Remember, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis, call 988.

Warning Signs for Suicide

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide is the first step in suicide prevention. People at risk of suicide may engage in or exhibit the following:

  • Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other dangerous means.
  • Talking, writing, or looking up on the internet about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person or if the person has previously thought about or talked about wanting to die or suicide.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities — seemingly without thinking.
  • Feeling trapped — like there's no way out.
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Saying concerning statements such as: “I just can't take it anymore" ; “All of my problems will end soon" ; “No one can do anything to help me now."

If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible.

Call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. If you need immediate help, call 911.

Why It's Important to Talk About Suicide

The first step to help prevent suicide is simply being able to discuss it. Common myths and stigmas about suicide still exist in our society today, making it difficult to discuss.

It's normal to feel uneasy or like you might not be able to make a difference in someone's life, but you actually can influence someone who is at risk.

If you suspect someone might be depressed or having suicidal thoughts, asking them about it can open a conversation. It can show that person you're there for them and want to help. Compassion, empathy, and caring can go a long way. Ask the questions:

  • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?"
  • “Are you thinking about suicide?
  • “Have you done anything or prepared to do anything to end your life?"

These questions show you care about them and their risk for suicide and you're willing to talk about it. It's important for them to know you're not going to judge them for suicidal thoughts.

Talking about suicide is one way to break the stigma. Talking can also increase awareness that getting help for suicidal thoughts is not a weakness but is the same as getting help for any other medical condition.

Who Is at Risk for Suicide?

Suicidal thoughts and actions can affect anyone, but people with mental health conditions are at a higher risk.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 46% of people who die from suicide have a known mental health condition. Those conditions may include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Other factors can put people at risk of suicide including:

  • Access to firearms.
  • Alcohol or drug use.
  • Family history of suicide.
  • History of trauma or abuse.
  • Recent tragedy or loss.
  • Serious or chronic health conditions.
  • Stress.

Gender can also play a role. More women attempt suicide than men, but men are much more likely to die by suicide.

If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible.

Call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. If you need immediate help, call 911.

To learn more about taking action and helping people in crisis, visit the “Be the 1 To" campaign website from the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The five action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal are supported by evidence in the field of suicide prevention.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines

If you're in crisis, it's important to get help right away. You do not need to be in the middle of a potentially life-threatening situation to ask for counseling. There is no problem that is too small to reach out for help.

There are many suicide prevention hotlines to help someone dealing with emotional difficulties or thinking about suicide. Trained counselors are available for free, 24/7, to get you through the crisis and provide additional support. Thoughts of suicide and self-harm can feel isolating, but it is important to remember that you are never alone.

Suicide prevention hotlines include:

Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly National Suicide Prevention Lifeline): Call 988 or chat online at Services are also available in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454 and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing through online chat and text telephone (TTY).

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 or chat online.

Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

The Trevor Project Lifeline: A special service for LGBTQIA+ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678, or chat online.