Know the Signs

Pain is not always obvious, but most people experiencing suicidal ideation will show one or more signs that they are thinking about suicide. You may notice these signs through actions or in conversations, social media posts, writing, or artwork. If you notice any of these signs, especially if they are new, more frequent, or appear to be connected to a recent traumatic experience, loss, or significant change, step in and take action. This information has been adapted from and

If any of these signs are present, seek immediate help

Critical Warning Signs

Talking about death or suicide

People who do this are not just "looking for attention." Any expression of death should always be taken seriously.

  • Statements may be subtle or vague
  • Statements may be direct or even literal "I am going to kill myself"
  • Thought may be reflected in something written, drawn, or posted to social media

Seeking methods for self harm

  • Searching methods online
  • Asking people about methods
  • Obtaining a firearm

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Unable to see a way out of their current situation
  • Statements that hint at life being pointless

This often sounds something like...

  • "I don't want my family and friends to have to worry about me anymore."
  • "They would be better off without me."
  • "Things will never get better."
  • "What I do doesn't matter. I'm a lost cause."

common warning signs that a person may be thinking about suicide

The Signs

Changes in mood

  • Uncharacteristically sad or depressed
  • Unusually happy after a period of significant depression
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Express or act in ways that reflect hostility, bitterness, resentment, or rage
  • Talking about seeking revenge

Changes in behavior

  • Behaving recklessly and appearing to not care about the consequences
  • Spending money recklessly
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawing from people or activities they once enjoyed
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Appearing anxious, shaken, or worried

Expressions of hopelessness and despair

  • Unable to see how their situation or life could get better
  • Cannot see a way out of their current situation
  • Statements that hint at life being pointless
  • Talking about being a burden to others (friends, family, society)
  • No sense of purpose

Putting affairs in order

  • Giving away prized or favorite possessions
  • Giving away passwords, gaming personas, and other prized online activities
  • Rushing to complete or revising a will

warning signs that a teen or young adult may be thinking about suicide

Teens and Young Adults

Complaining of physical pain

Complaining of headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc. that is often related to emotions

Neglect of personal appearance

  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Stop caring about basic grooming

Changes in personality

  • Significant changes in personality
  • Appearing angry, agitated, or moody in a way that seems out of character
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dramatic mood swings

Loss of interest

Loss of interest in activities such as school, sports, hobbies, spending time with friends, or other activities they use to enjoy

Changes in sleep

  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Seemingly more tired than usual

warning signs that an older adult may be thinking about suicide

Older Adults


  • Persistant sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

Failure to take care of self

  • Neglecting personal appearance
  • Lack of basic hygiene
  • Doesn't change clothes for an extended period of time
  • Uncharacteristically eating poorly or not eating at all

Preoccupied with death

They persistently read, talk, or think about death or suicide

Saying goodbye

  • Giving away possessions
  • Indicating they're saying farewell
  • Ending relationships

Neglecting doctor's orders

They may ignore medical advice