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Suicide: Warning Signs


Suicide. We would rather not talk about it. We hope it will never happen to anyone we know. But suicide is a reality, and it is more common than you might think. The possibility that suicide could claim the life of someone you love cannot be ignored. By paying attention to warning signs and talking about the "unthinkable," you may be able to prevent a death.

Common warning signs include:

  • Becoming depressed or withdrawn
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Getting affairs in order and giving away valued possessions
  • Showing a marked change in behavior, attitudes or appearance
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Suffering a major loss or life change
The following list gives more examples, all of which can be signs that somebody is contemplating suicide. Of course, in most cases these situations do not lead to suicide. But, generally, the more signs a person displays, the higher the risk of suicide.

Situations

  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Death of a close friend or family member
  • Divorce or separation, ending a relationship
  • Failing academic performance, impending exams, exam results
  • Job loss, problems at work
  • Impending legal action
  • Recent imprisonment or upcoming release

Behaviours

  • Crying
  • Fighting
  • Breaking the law
  • Impulsiveness
  • Self-mutilation
  • Writing about death and suicide
  • Previous suicidal behaviour
  • Extremes of behaviour
  • Changes in behaviour

Physical Changes

  • Lack of energy
  • Disturbed sleep patterns – sleeping too much or too little
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Increase in minor illnesses
  • Change of sexual interest
  • Sudden change in appearance
  • Lack of interest in appearance

Thoughts and Emotions

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Loneliness – lack of support from family and friends
  • Rejection, feeling marginalized
  • Deep sadness or guilt
  • Unable to see beyond a narrow focus
  • Daydreaming
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Helplessness
  • Loss of self-worth

WHO IS AT RISK?

  • People likely to commit suicide include those who:
  • are having a serious physical or mental illness
  • are abusing alcohol or drugs
  • are experiencing a major loss, such as the death of a loved one, unemployment or divorce
  • are experiencing major changes in their life, such as teenagers and seniors
  • have made previous suicide threats


*SOURCE: Information was adapted from original source – Centre for Suicide Prevention