The 988 National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have harmful, lasting effects on individuals, families, and communities. You can take crucial, preventative measures to help someone you know who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide when you know what warning signs to be aware of, how to address them, and how to give or get help.

What are some risk factors for suicide?
Risk factors, like certain circumstances listed below, may make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Risk factors can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re essential to know and can help prevent one.

  • Mental health conditions, particularly depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Lack of social support and a sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of health care coverage or accessibility, especially mental health and substance use treatment


What are protective factors for suicide?
Protective factors make it less likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Support loved ones by encouraging and reminding them of scenarios that may protect them from thoughts or behaviors of harm.

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills
  • Reasons for living, such as family, friends, or pets
  • A strong sense of cultural identity
  • Support from a partner, family, and friends
  • Feeling connected to school, community, or other social organizations
  • Access to consistent and high-quality physical and mental health care
  • Safe storage of lethal means (e.g., weapons, medications


What are some warning signs of suicide?
Recognizing warning signs will help you realize if a loved one may be at risk for suicide, especially if their behavior has changed, if a particular behavior has increased, or if it seems related to a painful event.

  • Talking about wanting to die or harm themselves
  • Looking for a way to harm themselves, like searching online or buying a weapon
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings


What can I do to help someone I love?
Consider these methods to help someone who may be thinking about suicide.

  • Ask: “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.
  • Be there: This could mean being physically present for someone or speaking with them on the phone. Listen carefully and try to understand what they’re thinking and feeling.
  • Keep them safe: Reducing access to weapons and dangerous places is essential to suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if they have a plan and removing any possible risk factors can make a difference.
  • Help them connect: Connecting someone with ongoing support can help them establish a safety net when they find themselves in a crisis. These supports can include a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  • Follow-up: If someone has told you that they’ve thought of harming themselves, connect them with the necessary support and stay in touch to see how they’re doing.


What can I do if I’m feeling depressed?
Depression symptoms such as hopelessness, fatigue, lack of appetite, and decreased interest in school, work, or hobbies can arise for many reasons and may become so severe that you may consider harming yourself. If you’re feeling depressed, know that you’re not alone, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Along with professional help and medication, when needed, you can also try the following activities to help with your depression and prevent thoughts of harm:

  • Talk to someone: Talk to a close friend or family member about what you’re going through. Face-to-face is best, but even connecting over the phone, video chat, or text can help. If that’s not enough or you’d rather speak with someone with more experience, consider a support group, crisis hotline, or mental health professional.
  • Move your body: It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing right now—but getting active, even for a short period of time, is one of the most effective ways of boosting your mood.
  • Add mindfulness to your day: Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. It can prevent you from getting caught up in worries about the future or regrets about the past. Some simple ways to add mindfulness to your routine include listening to your favorite music or setting aside a few minutes to meditate.
  • Get a daily dose of sunlight: When you’re feeling low, you might be tempted to close the blinds and isolate indoors. However, sunlight helps  boost serotonin levels and improve your outlook. Therefore, it’s important to expose yourself to sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day.


Most importantly…
If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, please call or text 988 or reach out to your care manager for resources and support!

  • Don’t ignore thoughts of suicide. If you feel that harming yourself is the only way to escape the pain you’re feeling, please reach out for help immediately.


If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, please call or text 988 or reach out to your care manager for resources and support!