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September 5, 2022

Suicide is Preventable. Understanding the Risk Factors Could Help Save A Life

While there is no single cause for suicide, there are risk factors and warning signs which may increase likelihood of an attempt. Learning them can save lives.

Risk factors

Suicide is Preventable. Paying attention to warning signs and risk factors can help save a lifeRisk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.


  • Mental health conditions
    • Depression, Substance use problems, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Conduct disorder, Anxiety disorders, Personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships.
  • Serious physical health conditions including pain
  • Traumatic brain injury


  • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
  • Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
  • Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide


  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

Warning signs

Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

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Find More Suicide Awareness and Prevention Resources Here

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Suicide Prevention Hotline

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