Suicide Prevention


Risk Factors and Warning Signs to Prevent Suicide

Do you know someone who has been affected by suicide?  Not everyone who considers suicide has attempted to end one’s life, and most people keep these thoughts to themselves.  Many people worry that talking about suicide will give someone the idea to end one’s life, but this is not true.  If someone is already thinking about suicide, s/he is in a very dark place and often feeling very alone.  Talking about it with a trusted friend/family member can open the door to getting needed help and support.  It is important that we be courageous enough to have these conversations and offer those who are contemplating suicide the key to that door: hope that there is a way out.

Know the Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

  • Mental disorders, 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 illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • 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 healthcare, 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)

Know the Warning Signs

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.

  • 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

If someone you know has any of the risk factors or warning signs listed above, please encourage that person to reach out to a therapist, a crisis line (see below), a physician, or even the local emergency room.  We have lost too many loved ones to suicide already.  Please be part of the solution by sharing these resources and by showing compassion and concern for those around us who are hurting.  It may save a life.


Behavioral Health Response (314)469-6644

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255