Suicide: Warning Signs and Prevention


Many causes of death have decreased in recent years, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015.

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fourteenth leading cause of death for females. Males commit suicide at nearly four times the rate of females and account for 77.9 percent of all suicides.

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

Why do people commit suicide or think about killing themselves?

Many people consider suicide when they feel hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems. Sometimes suicide is related to serious depression, a major stressful event, or alcohol or substance abuse.

By learning the warning signs of suicide, you might save a life – your own or someone else’s.

What Are the Warning Signs?

Suicide warning signs include:

  • Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns

Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

Who Is More Likely to Struggle With Suicide?

Things that might make someone more likely to kill themselves include:

  • A stressful life event, such as the loss of a loved one, military service, a breakup, or financial or legal problems
  • A family history of mental disorders, substance abuse, suicide, or violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • A medical condition that can be linked to depression and suicidal thinking, such as chronic disease, chronic pain or terminal illness
  • Are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with an unsupportive family or in a hostile environment

Are Children and Teens More at Risk?

Suicide in children and teenagers often follows stressful life events. What a young person sees as serious and impossible to overcome may seem minor to an adult — such as problems in school or the loss of a friendship. In some cases, a child or teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances that he or she may not want to talk about, such as:

  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Being the victim of bullying
  • Being uncertain of sexual orientation

What Should You Do if You or Someone Else Consider Suicide?

If someone talks about killing themselves, you should take it seriously. Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available 24/7.

If you’re feeling suicidal, but you aren’t immediately thinking of hurting yourself:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community
  • Call a suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Make an appointment with your doctor, other health care provider or mental health provider

How Can You Get More Info?

If you don’t have a doctor and would like help finding one, call Healthcare Coordination to make an appointment.

Health Information Center

For reliable information on any health related topic contact the Health Information Center. Staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists, the Health Information Center offers an extensive health library, digital and print resources, walk-in assistance, and help with research on specific health conditions – all free of charge and available to the public.