Suicide Warning Signs

Most youths who attempt suicide show some warning signs beforehand. Look for signs of substance abuse or depression and get professional help for your child if he/she needs it. Here are some other possible signals of suicide to watch out for:


  • Talks, writes, or otherwise expresses a preoccupation with suicide or death in general.
  • Complains of being a bad person or being “rotten inside”.
  • Gives verbal hints such as, “I’d be better off dead,” “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again”.


  • Withdraws from friends or family.
  • Significantly changes eating, sleeping, or appearance habits.
  • Experiences sudden drop in academic performance. Puts his affairs in order; for example, gives away favorite toys, cleans his room, or throws away important belongings.
  • Acts in rash, hostile, or irrational ways; often expresses rage.


  • Feels overwhelmingly hopeless, guilty, or ashamed.
  • Shows little interest in favorite activities or the future.
  • Becomes suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (perhaps feeling that she’s found a “solution” to her problems).

Risk Factors

Most youths who attempt suicide are experiencing a psychological problem such as depression or bipolar disorder, a substance abuse problem, or both. A teen’s experiences and history also can increase the chance that he will attempt suicide. For instance, he has a greater risk of attempting suicide if his family has a history of suicide, if he has previously harmed himself or attempted suicide, or if he has run away. A young person also may attempt suicide in response to an extremely stressful event, loss, or conflict with another person.

The suicide of a schoolmate, friend, or even a celebrity receiving media coverage can encourage suicidal impulses in your child. Suicides sometimes occur in clusters, in which one suicide influences other people already at risk for suicide.

If you believe you or someone you know is at risk for suicide click here

Learn about preventing suicide.

Adapted with permission from a website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration