While there are no infallible modes of identifying that someone is having thoughts about suicide, the following information regarding Potential Warning Signs of Suicide might indicate that a student is considering hurting themselves:
- A sudden decrease in academic performance
- Fixation/preoccupation with death or violence
- Unhealthy relationships
- Personal crisis such as major losses or rejections
- Violent mood swings or/and sudden change in personality
- Signs indicating that the student is in an abusive relationship
- Signs of an eating disorder
- Difficulty in adjusting to gender identity
- Withdrawing from social activities and friends
- Sudden decline of overall school performance
- Sadness, signs of hopelessness, or anger
- Feelings of worthlessness, or inappropriate guilt
- A sudden decline in energy and excitement
- Sudden neglect of personal hygiene and appearance
- Lethargy and feeling tired all the time, for no reason
- Lack of concentration
- Restlessness and agitation
- Dramatic changes in sleeping patterns and eating
- Unproved episodes of crying
- Lowered self-esteem
- Increase in use of alcohol or drugs
- When a persona announces that he/she plans to end their life
- Writing about suicide or death or talking about it
- Saying statements such as:
- "I just don't want to be alive."
- "I'm going to end it all."
- "I wish I were dead."
- "My life has no meaning."
- "Everyone will be better off without me."
- "There is no point to living."
- "Soon you won't have to worry about me."
- "Who cares if I'm dead, anyway?"
- "I can't go on any more."
- "Life isn't worth living."
- Withdrawing from friends and preferring to stay alone most of the time
- Giving away prized possessions
- Obtaining a weapon to hurt him or herself (including prescription medication)
*These warning signs alone may not be a foolproof way of determining that someone is thinking about harming themselves, however they may mean that a friend, classmate, or student has serious problems that warrants attention.
Talking to and reaching out to a person who is suicidal is an important action to take to help. This takes courage and compassion. In a firm, yet sensitive presentation a person is able to convey warm and genuine concern for another person. Although our society often emphasizes on privacy of individuals, it is important to intervene if an individual appears to be severely depressed and presents with suicidal thoughts or gestures. Here are some suggestions on how to approach someone who may be dangerously depressed:
- Choose a private location to address the person. Tell him/her that you are aware and have noticed some changes in her/his behavior. You can then ask if there is anyway you can help.
- Directly ask the individual if he or she is thinking about suicide or about harming themselves.
- Keep an open mind and an open ear; allow the person to talk.
- Don't' try to "make it all better," just listen.
- Don't' argue with him/her about why they are wrong. Listen to them express their feelings.
- Take any suicidal threat, comment or act very seriously.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) provides prevention support, training, and materials to strengthen suicide prevention efforts. Among the resources found on its website is the SPRC Library Catalog, a searchable database containing a wealth of information on suicide and suicide prevention, including publications, peer-reviewed research studies, curricula, and web-based resources. Many of these items are available online.
American Association of Suicidology
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and prevention of suicide. It promotes research, public awareness programs, public education, and training for professionals and volunteers and serves as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is dedicated to advancing our knowledge of suicide and our ability to prevent it. AFSP's activities include supporting research projects; providing information and education about depression and suicide; promoting professional education for the recognition and treatment of depressed and suicidal individuals; publicizing the magnitude of the problems of depression and suicide and the need for research, prevention, and treatment; and supporting programs for suicide survivor treatment, research, and education.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a valuable source of information and statistics about suicide, suicide risk, and suicide prevention. To locate information on suicide and suicide prevention, scroll down the left-hand navigation bar on the NCIPC website and click on "Suicide" under the "Violence" heading.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides immediate assistance to individuals in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service provider through a toll-free telephone number: (800) 273-TALK (8255). Technical assistance, training, and other resources are available to the crisis centers and mental health service providers that participate in the network of services linked to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA
The Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA) is the nation's only suicide prevention organization dedicated to leveraging grassroots support among suicide survivors (those who have lost a loved one to suicide) and others to advance public policies that help prevent suicide.