What To Know – Signs & Risk Factors

Suicide is considered a missed opportunity in prevention.  Learn the warning signs and risk factors.

New US Center for Disease Control Report (2013)

Adolescent Substance Abuse America’s #1 Public Health Problem

These are not all of the warning signs and risk factors.  Take all warning signs seriously and follow-up with a licensed professional at your school. Follow your school protocols for students considered “at-risk” and for any student related emergency.

Warning Signs

  • Talking about, writing about, hinting at or threatening suicide
  • Drug abuse
  • Drastic changes in personality
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Sleeping very little or sleeping excessively
  • Eating very little or eating ravenously
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Fatigue, lethargy or apathy
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Drastic changes in appearance
  • Conflicts with family, peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc

This list isn’t complete; these are just some of the more common signs. Feelings of depression and suicide are treatable, with the right help. Before young people can be guided to the professional help they need, however, we must be willing to listen to their cries for help and to respond in a caring and effective way.

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem.  Warning signs are important, but it is also important to know the risk factors affiliated with suicide.  Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group.

Risk Factors

  • Mental disorders – particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance abuse disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Some major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Relational or social loss
  • Easy access to lethal means (such as firearms)
  • Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior
  • Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Certain cultural and religious belief (for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Exposure to, including through the media, and influence of others who have died by suicide
  • Job or financial loss