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RISK FACTORS & WARNING SIGNS - Source: Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Risk factors are characteristics of a person or his or her environment that increase the likelihood that he or she will die by suicide (i.e., suicide risk).

Major risk factors for suicide include:

  • Prior suicide attempt(s)

  • Misuse and abuse of alcohol or other drugs

  • Mental disorders, particularly depression and other mood disorders

  • Access to lethal means

  • Knowing someone who died by suicide, particularly a family member

  • Social isolation

  • Chronic disease and disability

  • Lack of access to behavioral health care

Warning signs should be viewed in the context of either immediate risk or serious risk.

Immediate Risk

Some behaviors may indicate that a person is at immediate risk for suicide.

The following three should prompt you to immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a mental health professional:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself

  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live


Serious Risk

Other behaviors may also indicate a serious risk—especially if the

behavior is new; has increased; and/or seems related to a painful event,

loss, or change.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Displaying extreme mood swings

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