Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide can be prevented and every suicide is an unneccesary death. While some suicides occur without any outward warning signs, most people who are suicidal do give warnings of some sort. After losing someone close to suicide, families or friends may find it difficult to acknowledge this fact, but it does give others an opportunity to recognise these signs in themselves or their loved ones.

The following list represents the most common warning signs of suicidal ideation;

  • Observable serious depression (read more)
  • Increased or risky alcohol or drug intake
  • Recent impulsiveness or risk taking
  • Expressed direct threats of suicide (read more)
  • Expressed indirect threats of suicide (read more)
  • Making a suicide plan (read more)
  • Unexpected or uncharateristic rage or anger

Any warning sign should be treated seriously and even moreso if a person has attempted or considered suicide in the past. One other common warning sign is that often, those who are considering suicide may have experienced a significant loss in their life. For example;

  • The end of a serious relationship
  • The loss of a loved one to suicide
  • Bereavement
  • Divorce or separation from a loved one
  • The loss of a job
  • Loss of finances or resources
  • Loss of friends or supports (e.g., moving to a new location)

In a relatively short period of time, a person may develop a "Suicide Crisis". This could be defined as a time-limited occurrence signaling an immediate danger of suicide. Some warning signs of such a crisis time include if the person has;

  • Experienced a recent participating event that has been traumatic or distressing e.g., bereavement, assault
  • Developed an intense affective state e.g., rage, desperation, acute anxiety
  • Dramatically changed their behaviour
  • Rapidly lost their ability to function e.g., at work, socially, through alcohol, loss of control or through rage