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Suicide Risk Indicators

Is your friend at risk for committing suicide? A list of trouble signs.

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It is impossible to know for sure if a person who seems sad or who has changed for the worse is at a real risk for suicide. Nobody can ever predict how another person will react to the more troubling or difficult things in life. Different people handle different situations in different ways - this is a fact of life no matter how old you become. But there are some clear warning signs that a friend may be in trouble and that suicide may be something they are considering.

When dealing with depression, hopelessness, and fear, it is difficult to know where the bad feelings end and real risk begins. If your friend exhibits two or more of these warning signs in a close period of time it is best that you try to help. This does not mean you should take the weight of their world upon your shoulders, but it does mean you should alert other people to the possible risk. Go to your other friends, your at-risk friend's family, or a trusted teacher or counsellor. Just like your friend does not have to go through a difficult time alone, you do not need to try to save your friend on your own. If you fear your friend may attempt suicide, you should get some outside help and guidance from people who are best able to get your friend the help he/she really needs.

Common Suicide Risk Indicators

  • A previous suicide attempt, even if it seemed staged or designed to get attention, or boasts of past or secret suicide attempts.
  • Talking about being dead or wishing they were dead, how others would be happier if he/she were dead or how much better off others will be when he/she is gone.
  • Repeatedly engaging in very risky or dangerous thrill seeking behavior.
  • "Getting the house in order" - making plans for the care of loved siblings, parents, relatives or pets and giving away cherished belongings to close friends.
  • Extreme mood swings; very depressed episodes followed by happy episodes with no clear reason for the change.
  • Regular expressions of worthlessness, helplessness, sadness and/or lonliness.
  • Drastic changes in habits, friends, or appearance, ie; new friends, skipping school, dropping out of favorite activities, and no longer caring about appearance or cleanliness.
  • Changes in weight, sleeping habits, and physical activity.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or activities that once gave the person pleasure or a sense of identity.
For help determining if your friend is at high or low risk for suicide take the Teen Advice Suicide Risk Assessment.

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