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 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.