Suicidal warning signs

If you are having thoughts about suicide there could also be some behavioural and/or physical changes that could tell you something isn’t right.

 It might be subtle, but it’s likely that you notice a number of signs rather than just one or two. Remember that everyone is different and respond differently to these thoughts and feelings.

Non-verbal indicators may include:

  • social withdrawal
  • a persistent drop in mood
  • disinterest in maintaining personal hygiene or appearance
  • uncharacteristically reckless behaviour
  • poor diet changes, rapid weight changes
  • being distracted
  • anger
  • insomnia
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • giving away sentimental or expensive possessions

Indirect verbal expressions may include:

  • hopelessness
  • failing to see a future
  • believing they are a burden to others
  • saying they feel worthless or alone
  • talking about their death or wanting to die.

This is not an exhaustive list.  Be guided by your instincts.

Reasons for suicidal feelings

The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex. Factors influencing whether someone is likely to be suicidal include:

Risk factors – sometimes called vulnerability factors,  these factors increase the likelihood of suicidal behaviour. 

Risk factors include: 

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • History of substance abuse
  • History of mental health conditions – depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD
  • Relationship problems – conflict with parents and / or romantic partners
  • Legal or disciplinary problems
  • Access to harmful means, such as medication or weapons
  • Recent death or suicide of a family member or a close friend
  • Ongoing exposure to bullying behaviour
  • Physical illness or disability.

Protective factors – these reduce the likelihood of suicidal behaviour, and work to improve a person’s ability to cope with difficult circumstances.

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Crisis support

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Other services include:

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