Suicide is a public health crisis and rates of suicide have been increasing. Suicide creates a tremendous impact on individuals, family, the community and health care facilities. According to, more than 41,000 people die by suicide each year. And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 38% of individuals who attempt suicide visited their health care provider in the week before their attempt and over 60% visited in the month prior.

Many of these deaths are preventable. Knowing the warning signs and how to approach someone who may be dealing with suicidal thoughts is essential in preventing suicide. 

Risk factors for suicide

  • Substance abuse or intoxication
  • Serious or chronic medical illness
  • Mental illness and family history of depression or suicide
  • Prolonged stress, trauma or abuse
  • Access to firearms
  • Age and gender – women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, however men are four times more likely to die by suicide. People under 24 or over 65 are also at a higher risk of suicide.

Warning signs of suicide

  • Social withdrawal from family and friends
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Threats or comments such as, “I wish I wasn’t here” or talk about killing themselves or disappearing
  • Aggressive or reckless behavior 
  • Dramatic mood swings or shifts ranging from despair to calm
  • Giving away possessions
  • Planning to acquire things they need to complete suicide, such as medications or firearms
Often people struggle with how to discuss suicide. Remember these points when talking to someone who may be considering suicide:
  • Invite open and honest communication about thoughts of suicide: listen to their concerns without judgement, express understanding and empathy, do not promise secrecy, express the importance of seeking additional support and involve the supports in the discussion. 
  • Validate: many people experience suicidal ideation 
  • Inform: identify available resources and treatment options 
  • Discuss the person’s concerns within your level of comfort, but then reach out for additional support from staff, family or community partners
If someone tells you that they are planning to harm themselves, take that threat seriously and act quickly. Knowing what to do can be very difficult. Mental health professionals can help improve overall mental health. If you are experiencing these signs, keep the number of your mental health provider on hand in case of an emergency. To find a Prevea Behavioral Care provider near you, click here. For immediate help, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

988 suicide and crisis hotline 

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, launched in July 2022, provides a fast way for people experiencing a suicidal, mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) crisis to urgently get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Modeled after 911, 988 was created as an alternative to 911, which is not designed to handle behavioral health emergencies but is frequently used for lack of alternatives. 

988 is free and confidential for callers (chatting is also free; standard data rates from telecommunication mobile carriers may apply to those who text). 

When people call, text or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support and connect them to resources if necessary. 

Additional resources