Prevention and Intervention Tools for Suicide

Warning Signs of Suicide


Direct Verbal Cues

A direct verbal cue is when an individual directly states their intent to attempt suicide.  Examples:

  • “I wish I was dead”
  • “I want to die”
  • “I want to kill myself”
  • “I’m going to end it all”

Indirect Verbal Cues

Indirect verbal cues make no direct reference to death or suicide, but can be interpreted as a more covert reference to considering suicide.  Examples:

  • “I wish I could go to bed and never wake up”
  • “I wish I was never born”
  • “I can’t take it anymore”
  • “I’m done with everything”

Behavioral Cues

Behavioral cues are distinct changes in behavior that may indicate that an individual is planning to attempt suicide. Examples:

  • Giving away possessions
  • No longer completing tasks such as homework or chores
  • Writing letters that come across as “last goodbyes”
  • Making amends
  • Suddenly becoming very affectionate as if saying goodbye for the last time


How to Help Adolescents Who Are Considering Suicide

  • Take any mention of suicide seriously.  Do not dismiss it as attention seeking.
  • Reassure them that you care about them and will do what is needed to help.
  • If they have the intent, the plan, and the means to attempt suicide, do not leave them unattended.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
  • Take them to a local behavioral health agency
  • Use the behavioral health treatment locators on our treatment and support resources page to connect with a professional.
  • Begin a conversation with them to find out what’s going on and what has brought them to this point.
  • Consider using the suggestions on our “Talking With Youth About Depression, Self-Injury, and Suicide” page during your conversation.



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