Warning Signs & Risk Factors

Warning Signs

Warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help

  • Talking about suicide, wanting to die, or kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, or having no purpose or reason to live
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Suddenly happier and calmer, especially after a period of depression or sadness
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Making a will or arrangements for funeral
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from family/friends and isolating oneself
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability
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Risk Factors

Risk factors do not cause or predict a suicide, rather they are characteristics that make it more likely an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide.

  • Recent Loss of Significant Relationship
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Someone close to the person has died by suicide
  • Loss of job, home, money
  • Death or terminal illness of a loved one
  • Loss of health, either real or imagined
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • History of Trauma or abuse
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Recent disappointment or rejection
  • Being expelled from school/fired from job
  • Sudden loss of freedom/fear of punishment
  • Victim of assault or bullying
  • Questioning gender

Social and Cultural Risk Factors

Some ethnic groups and races are at higher risk. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH),  Native Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites had the highest rates of suicide in 2021, while Asian, Black/African Americans, and Hispanics had lower rates. Cultural and social risks include:

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with seeking help for one's (mental or emotional) problems
  • Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Certain cultural and religious beliefs
  • Influence of others who have died by suicide

Biological and Psychological Risk Factors

A history of mental health disorders, particularly depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, place an individual at a higher risk for suicidal behavior. Other risks include:

  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Major physical illnesses or chronic pain
  • Previous suicide attempt

Environmental Risk Factors

A job loss or financial loss can set off a sequence of emotional events that put an individual at greater risk for suicide. Other environmental risks include:

  • Relational or social loss, such as a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Easy access to lethal means, such as guns and firearms. However, this can also include poisons and prescription medications
  • Local clusters of copycat suicides
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Have they shown or shared any of the following:


Talk about wanting to die, be dead, or about suicide, or are they cutting or burning themselves?


Feeling like things may never get better, seeming like they are in terrible emotional pain (like something is wrong deep inside but they can’t make it go away), or they are struggling to deal with a big loss in their life?


Or is your gut telling you to be worried because they have withdrawn from everyone and everything, have become more anxious or on edge, seem unusually angry, or just don’t seem normal to you?

If you know someone who has any of the warning signs and risk factors involved, whether they are an adult/older adult or a youth, there are things that you can do to help:

Ask them if they are okay and listen to them like a true friend.

Tell them you are worried and concerned about them and that they are not alone.

Talk to a mental health professional about your concerns or go to additional resources on this page.


Get In Touch

  • P.O. Box 62217
    Harrisburg, PA 17106

  • (717) 585-0611

  • info@

Who We Are

Suicide Prevention Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps people who are in need of preventative suicide assistance

Suicide Prevention Alliance is a resource organization ONLY. We are NOT a hotline or counseling service/center. However, if you are in a crisis and need immediate help, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and call 988 or chatline at 988lifeline.org. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line and text 741-741 or contact 911.