Feelings of hopelessness and/or depression can contribute to suicidal thoughts or actions. Below are additional risk factors that can contribute to suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt as well as possible warning signs of suicide and suicidal behaviors to look for.
What are the warning signs of suicide?
Talking about concerning topics. A primary warning sign is if someone talks about wanting to die or kill themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, or feeling like a burden to others. Expressing feelings of overwhelming shame and guilt and making statements that others don’t care, or others will “be better off without me.”
Suicide notes. If someone writes a suicide note — or a note that makes it sound like they are saying goodbye or planning to hurt themselves — it is a very real sign of danger and should always be taken seriously. These notes may be in the form of letters, emails, social media posts, or text messages.
Previous attempts. If someone has attempted suicide in the past, they are more likely to try again.
Final arrangements. This behavior may take many forms. In teens, it might be saying goodbye to friends, giving away prized possessions, or deleting profiles, pictures, or posts on social media.
Dramatic changes. Changes can include withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, becoming less involved in activities that were once important, avoiding others, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss, or disinterest in appearance or hygiene.
Plan/method/access. A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns or other weapons; may seem to have increased access to guns or pills; and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan.
What are suicidal behaviors to look out for?
Risky behaviors. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge can be warning signs.
Hurting oneself. Self-injurious behaviors (e.g. cutting) are warning signs for young children as well as teenagers.
What factors can place youth at risk for suicidal ideation and/or a possible suicide attempt?
- LGBTQ youth
- Substance abuse
- History of sexual or physical abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Academic struggles
- Teens lacking social and family support
- Family history of suicide
If your child expresses thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:
Text any message to 9-8-8
Chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741
Find a mental health provider
Check your insurance website or the back of your insurance card.
Explore Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” tool.
Call CalOptima Behavioral Health (Orange County, CA).