Warning Signs

Suicide deaths are always complicated, but seldom occur without warning.

The following are some common warning signs to look for in someone who may be at risk of attempting suicide or dying by suicide.  In any of the following, it is a change in the person that should be looked for.

Physical signs:

  • Neglect of personal appearance/change in manner of dress
  • Sudden weight gain/loss
  • Sudden change in appetite

Emotional signs:

  • Sense of hopelessness, helplessness
  • Depression
  • Lethargy or tiredness
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Feelings of guilt or failure
  • Self-destructive thoughts
  • Feelings of worthlessness or being a burden
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities previously enjoyed

Behavioural signs:

  • Threatening or talking about suicide
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Putting affairs in order or making a will
  • Writing poetry or stories about suicide or death
  • Hoarding pills, hiding weapons
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sports, work
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in friendships
  • Risk taking activities such as careless driving
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Preoccupation with death

(Adapted from SIEC - the Suicide Information & Education Centre)