Warning Signs of an Attempt

  • Personality Changes
    • very depressed demeanor
    • talk of getting even with someone or will make someone sorry
    • talking about suicide, the hereafter, wills, or other things related to death
    • sudden happy mood (may be planning to end things soon)
  • Health Problems
    • sleep disturbance
    • headaches, weight loss, weight gain, nausea or fatigue
  • Behavioral Changes
    • alcohol and other drugs used frequently and/or in large quantities
    • engaging in risky actions (reckless driving or fights)
    • obtaining item for killing oneself (gun, sleeping pills)
    • breaking up in a love relationship

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

  • Show support
    • take your friend's pain seriously
    • keep in touch and be interested
    • believe any threats of suicide
  • Listen
    • be calm
    • if your friend's talk frightens you, say so
  • Talk
    • about suicide
    • offer positive actions, alternatives, establish hope for the future
    • express concerned for friend
  • Stay Close
    • find out if there is a plan for committing suicide and how far it has gone
    • seek professional help immediately (suicide hotline, hospital emergency room, local crisis center, campus counselors)
    • have your friend agree not attempt suicide while you're finding help
    • do not try to manage things by yourself call for help
  • Do Not
    • assume the situation will go away; leave your friend by him/herself; keep the situation secret
    • act shocked over any suicide statements
    • react with a dare to your friend's threats

Where to Find Help

Additional Reading

  • Beating Back the Blues: Dealing with Depression, American College Health Association, 1990.
  • About Suicide - and how you can help prevent it, Scriptographic, 1992
  • Nelson, R.E. and Galas, J.C. (1994) The Power to Prevent Suicide: A guide for teens helping teens. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing.