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Learning the warning signs, risk factors, and protective factors of suicide can help identify someone who may be suicidal.

Warning Signs

Emergency Warning Signs

Call 911 or the emergency service number of your country if you see or hear the following: 

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill themselves or talking of wanting to die.

  • Someone looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to weapons or other lethal items (this can be online searches or physically looking for something in the moment of despair).

  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Contact a mental health professional or hotline if you hear or see someone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors:​

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Extreme mood swings

Suicide Crisis Info

Use this list of helpline resources if you or someone you know is suicidal.


  • ​988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (USA): Dial 988 | 

  • Trevor Project-LGBT Youth (USA): 1-866-4-U-Trevor

  • Crisis Text Line: Text "SAVE" to 741-741


Risk Factors

  • Recent loss of relationship

  • Easy access to lethal means

  • Local clusters of suicide

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

  • Stigma associated with asking for help

  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

  • Mental illnesses. Particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders

  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders

  • Hopelessness

  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

  • History of trauma or abuse

  • Major physical or chronic illnesses

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • Family history of suicide

  • Recent job or financial loss

Risk factors do not cause or predict a suicide, rather they are characteristics that make it more likely an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide.

Protective Factors

Protective factors are characteristics that make a person less likely to engage in suicidal behavior. Moreover, protective factors can promote resilience and ensure connectedness with others during difficult times, thereby making suicidal behaviors less likely.

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions

  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide

  • Strong connections to family and community support

  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation

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