Most of the time, people who kill themselves show one or more of these warning signs before they take action:
- Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun
- Talking about a specific suicide plan
- Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation
- Having the feeling of being a burden to others
- Feeling humiliated
- Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure
- Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others
- Acting irritable or agitated
- Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real
Individuals who show such behaviors should be evaluated for possible suicide risk by a medical doctor or mental health professional.
What To Do When You Suspect Someone May Be at Risk for Suicide
Take it Seriously
- 50% to 75% of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention.
- If someone you know shows the warning signs above, the time to act is now.
- Begin by telling the suicidal person you are concerned about them.
- Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide.
- Don’t be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it.
- Ask if they are seeing a clinician or are taking medication so the treating person can be contacted.
- Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know that you care, that they are not alone and that they can get help. Avoid pleading and preaching to them with statements such as, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”
Encourage Professional Help
- Actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.
- People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a professional and schedule an appointment. If they will let you, go to the appointment with them.
- If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention. Do not leave the person alone.
- Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.
- Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.
If these options are not available, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance.
Where to Get Help
Veterans Crisis Hotline
Confidential * 24/7 * 365 days per year
For Veterans and their loved ones
Call: (800) 273 8255
Text message: 838255
Allows you to customize the website based on gender, service and combat status. It has resources for the service member, Veterans, friends, family and clinicians.
Mental health wellness resource for the military community. Outreach Center assists with recovery, reintegration and strengthening resilience.
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
Information, training, resources and support for the military community and those who love and care for them.
Call: (866) 966 1020
Provides free mental health services for the U.S. military and their families.
Offers free, confidential programs and services to military personnel and families facing post-traumatic stress and other invisible wounds of war.
“Social Network for the 0.5%”
Veterans and resources near you.
Information and Support After a Suicide Attempt: A Department of Veterans Affairs Resource Guide for Family Members of Veterans Who are Coping with Suicidality
Brief guide designed to provide Veterans, their families and VA care providers with resources that can serve as sources of information and support.