Don't hesitate to raise the subject. Talking with young people about suicide won't put the idea in their heads. Chances are, if you've observed any of the warning signs, they're already thinking about it. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way.
What to do if you see the warning signs?
- If a friend or someone you know mentions suicide, take it seriously. If he or she has expressed an immediate plan or has access to a gun or other potentially deadly means, do not leave him or her alone. Get help immediately. Talk to an adult you trust. Seek out a school counselor or nurse, physician, member of the clergy, suicide prevention or crisis line, or a friend for help.
- Contact 911 if you believe someone is in immediate danger of hurting themselves.
- To anonymously speak with someone or get a referral for local help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or use online chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You can also text “HEAL to 741741 if you ever feel in crisis and want to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Watch for these signs -- they may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.
- A previous suicide attempt
- Current talk of suicide or making a plan
- Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death
- Giving away prized possessions
- Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal
- Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
- Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
These warning signs are especially noteworthy if there has been:
- A recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
- A recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents
- News reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community
Other key risk factors include:
- Readily accessible firearms
- Impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
- Lack of connection to family and friends (no one to talk to)