Common warning signs

Someone who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to those around them, though these may be subtle. Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and triggers and taking them seriously. 

The video below features extracts from interviews with Beyond Blue's blueVoices members reflecting on their suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal thoughts

"I wasn't getting any rest or I'd often wake up in a panic attack."


The following is a list of signs people might reveal when they are feeling distraught or overwhelmed. These physical changes and behaviours are indicators that a person may be considering suicide.

Some of the signs are stronger indicators and these are in bold text below. It is likely that a suicidal person will display a number of these signs rather than just one or two.

However, everyone is different and there is no definitive way to predict how someone will act.


  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Loneliness
  • Disconnection
  • Worthlessness
  • Powerlessness
  • Desperation
  • Irritability
  • Shame
  • Rejection
  • Sadness
  • Isolation
  • Anger
  • Exhaustion
  • Trapped


  • Prior suicidal behaviour
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Quitting activities which were previously important
  • Putting affairs in order
  • Writing suicide notes or goodbye letters to loved ones
  • Self-harming 
  • Uncharacteristic risk-taking or recklessness
  • Fighting and/or breaking the law
  • Unexplained crying
  • Emotional outbursts, mood swings
  • Increased irritability

Conversational signs

  • Helplessness: “Nothing I do makes a bit of difference, it’s beyond my control and no one can help me.”
  • Talking about suicide or death
  • Planning for suicide
  • Feeling trapped: “I can’t see any way out of this mess.”
  • Feeling like a burden: “They’d be better off without me.”
  • Lack of belonging: “I just don’t fit in anywhere.”
  • Hopeless: “What is the point? Things are never going to get any better.”
  • Guilt: “It’s my fault, I’m to blame.”
  • Escape: “I just can’t take this anymore.”
  • Alone: “I’m on my own… no one cares about me; no one would even notice if I was gone.”
  • Damaged: “I’ve been irreparably damaged… I’ll never be the same again.”

Physical changes

  • Major changes to sleeping patterns; usually too little, though maybe too much
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Sudden and extreme changes in eating habits; either a loss of appetite or an increase in appetite
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Chronic illness and pain

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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