Suicide Prevention: Know the Warning Signs and What to Do
Knowing how to recognize these signs is the first step in taking action that could save someone’s life. People who attempt suicide often send out warning signs before they actually make an attempt. These signs may be loud and clear, or low-key and subtle. Knowing how to recognize these signs is the first step in taking action that could save someone’s life.
- Talking about suicide or wanting to die
- Looking for lethal means such as firearms, available pills, or other means
- Feeling hopeless
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes
- Feeling trapped—like there’s no way out
- Feeling anxious, agitated
- Not sleeping or sleeping all the time
- No sense of purpose in life
- What to Do if You Spot the Signs
What You Can You Do
- ASK about suicide
- Seek more information and keep safe
- Know where and how to refer (take action)
ASK About Suicide
If you suspect that someone you know is thinking about suicide, the best way to approach the situation is to ask.
- Indirect- Sometimes when people are sad, as you are, they think about suicide. Have you ever thought about it? Do you want to go to bed and never wake up?
- Direct - Have you thought about suicide? Do you want to kill yourself? Are you thinking about suicide?
- Always ASK – it is the most important step. If you cannot do it, find someone who can.
Seek More Information
- Seek a private area to talk. Seek to establish a relationship. Comment on what you see and observe non-judgmentally. Be curious about their perceived problem; find out how long they’ve thought about suicide, if they’ve attempted suicide in the past and if they tried to get help.
- Seek to find out if they are at immediate high risk of suicide (have a plan or are rehearsing it in their mind and/or have a gun, access to pills or other means). Take immediate steps to limit access to means and assure safety if needed. Be sure to be aware of your own non-verbal reactions and tone of voice.
- Help ensure the person’s safety and/or help them start to implement a safety plan – a list of people they can call when feeling suicidal. Find out who and where they normally go to for help (family, friends, pastor, neighbor, roommate, girl/boy friend). Find out if they have a regular doctor, mental health provider or counselor
- With immediate risk of suicide call 911 or get the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Know How And Where To Refer
- Know where to refer nationally, in Texas and in your area, your school or your community.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. Save this number to save a life.
- Texas Crisis Line Options - All MHMRs/LMHAs in Texas are required to provide a 24-hour crisis line for their service area (which may be a county or a region of counties) and these lines are required to be certified by the American Association of Suicidology. To find the number to the MHMR crisis line closest to you, log onto the DSHS website, http://www.dshs.texas.gov/mhsa-mh-help/.
- Other Local resources: hospitals, law enforcement, mobile outreach crisis teams.
- If someone is in immediate risk, do not leave him or her alone. Call 911 for a mental health deputy or officer to transport a person and/or take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Save a Number. Save a Life.
Enter the Lifeline phone number in your cell phone – it’s too hard to remember a phone number in a crisis:
For more information on suicide prevention and our ASK About Suicide to Save a Life training at texassuicideprevention.org.
Follow Texas Suicide Prevention on Twitter | @StopTxSuicides