Definitions of Suicide and Suicidal Ideation
Suicide Death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.
Suicide attempt A non-fatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury.
Suicidal ideation Thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide.
The Warning Signs of SuicideThe following behaviors may indicate that a person is having suicidal thoughts. This list can be a useful resource, but keep in mind there may be other indicators that a person is contemplating suicide.
- Talking about killing or harming one’s self
- Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
- Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
- Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
- A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
Risk Factors for Suicide
- Family history of suicide
- Family history of child maltreatment
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
- History of alcohol and substance abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
- Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
- Local epidemics of suicide
- Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
- Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
- Loss (relational, social, work, or other)
When To Get Help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right now:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
If you’re feeling suicidal, but you aren’t immediately thinking of hurting yourself:
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community
- Call a suicide crisis center hotline
- Make an appointment with your doctor, other health care provider or mental health provider