Warning Signs of Suicide and What You Can Do

If you think a person could be suicidal, ask, "Have you thought about suicide?" If they say "yes," they may already have a plan for how and when they will attempt it. Find out as much as you can. The more detailed the plan, and the easier it is to carry out, the more danger the person is in right now.

Young  woman sitting by window looking sad.

Know the warning signs

The warning signs for suicide include:

  • Threats or talk of suicide

  • Buying a gun or other weapon

  • Statements such as "Soon, I won't be a problem" or "Nothing matters"

  • Giving away items they own, making out a will, or planning their funeral

  • Suddenly being happy or calm after being depressed

Get help

Don't try to handle this alone. You can be the most help by getting the person to a trained professional. Why? Because suicidal thinking may be a sign of depression, a serious but treatable illness. Once it is treated, suicidal thinking often goes away.

In an emergency—call 911

Don't leave the person alone. Call 911 or a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline. It can be found in the white pages of your phone book under "Suicide." You can also get help at the nearest hospital emergency room (ER).

Don't keep it a secret

Call a mental health clinic or a licensed mental health professional in your area: a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, psychiatric or clinical social worker, marriage and family counselor, or clergy. Tell them you need help for a person who is thinking about suicide.

Resources

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)

    www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

  • National Suicide Hotline

    800-784-2433 (800-SUICIDE)

  • National Institute of Mental Health

    866-615-6464

    www.nimh.nih.gov

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness

    800-950-6264

    www.nami.org

  • Mental Health America

    800-969-6642

    www.nmha.org