Suicidal warning signs usually precede a suicide attempt. Though some suicides occur with no apparent warning, in many cases people considering suicide show signs that something is wrong before they attempt to end their lives. Learning to identify suicide risk factors and warning signs can save lives.

Depression Symptoms and Warnings of Suicide

Depression is one of the most common suicide risk factors. In most cases, depression does not lead to suicide, but most suicidal people are either depressed or suffer from other mental disorders. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Hopelessness and pessimism
  • Irritability and anger
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Overwhelming sense of desperation
  • Sadness or depressed mood lasting two or more weeks
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social withdrawal
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble concentrating.

Suicidal Warning Signs

Depression symptoms are not the only warnings of suicide. Suicidal warning signs can also include:

  • Giving away possessions
  • Increasing consumption of alcohol or drugs
  • Increasing impulsivity and risk-taking
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-worth
  • Outbursts of anger or rage
  • Purchasing a firearm or obtaining other methods of suicide
  • Threatening suicide and talking of dying
  • Unexplained changes in mood, personality, appearance or behavior
  • Verbal cues, such as saying, “I can’t go on.”

Some people’s mood appears to improve just before committing suicide. The individual seems calmer and in better spirits, which can fool observers into thinking the individual’s depression or other symptoms are improving. In fact, the improvement in mood occurs because the suicidal individual has decided to go through with the suicide.

If you suspect someone may be considering suicide, talk to him and encourage him to get help. If you fear that someone is planning suicide in the very near future, call 911 or take them to the emergency room. Don’t leave a suicidal person alone, and make sure they don’t have access to firearms or other ways of committing suicide.

Suicide Risk Factors

Suicide risk factors increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Many people with suicidal risk factors never consider suicide, but for some people, suicide risk factors are enough to prompt suicidal behavior.

Suicidal risk factors include:

  • Academic failure or stress
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Family history of suicide
  • Imprisonment (or release from prison)
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Poor job performance/job termination
  • Sexual or physical abuse.

Self-Mutilation and Warnings of Suicide

Self-mutilation (also known as self-injurious behavior) is intentionally hurting oneself in a maladaptive attempt to release tension, stress and negative emotions. Self-injurious behavior differs from suicidal behavior in that the injury is not intended to kill. Although not considered suicidal behavior, self-injurious behavior is sometimes seen with depression and anxiety disorders, both of which are suicide risk factors.