Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide

Author:  Akayla Gardner

From Middle America to the hills of Hollywood, there are virtually zero communities that have not been affected by the loss of suicide. A growing epidemic, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the country and in the top three among young people ages 15 to 24. Additionally, from 1999-2016, suicide rates increased in nearly every state. 

When a suicide happens, there is usually a cloud of remorse, regret, and even embarrassment hanging over friends and family. The grief that comes with losing a loved one is almost heightened knowing there was a chance it could have been stopped.

No one should blame themselves when a suicide happens within their circle or environment. However, we all have a responsibility to prevent suicide. It is vital to be informed about the warning signs if we want to put a stop to the rising numbers of death by suicide.

On my own college campus and in my hometown, I've seen how suicide can devastate communities. My paths have crossed with several people who were considering suicide and those that have survived suicide attempts. Their stories have inspired me, and I am vocal about addressing mental health.

In the fall, I will begin working as a Resident Advisor, and I have already taken a suicide prevention course in preparation for my role as a student support resource. From my experience, I've seen how important it is to be attentive to not only our friends and family but also to classmates and co-workers. You don't have to know someone personally to reach out. Be observant; asking goes a long way.

Before someone decides to attempt suicide, there is a progressive period of contemplation. During this period, the individual leaves clues and often clear cries for help that can go unaddressed.

Here are possible warning signs:

  1. Expressing a desire to die or kill oneself
  2. Expressing hopelessness, depression, stress, or anxiety
  3. Engaging in reckless behavior
  4. Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol
  5. Offering to give away possessions
  6. Sleeping all day or difficulty sleeping
  7. Isolation from others
  8. Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  9. Irritable or easily angered
  10. Extreme mood swings
  11. Looking to access or accessing lethal means like guns, knives, pills, etc.
  12. Feeling like a burden

If a person is exhibiting these signs, be upfront and ask, "Are you thinking about or considering suicide?" If the answer is yes, you should show sincere support and give them hope for the future. Just being there and listening to what they need is crucial. 


Don't promise to keep it a secret, but offer to call a suicide hotline and seek professional help with them. If they resist help and you're not sure what to do, reach out for yourself and ask how to proceed. It is essential to keep them safe. Don't leave that person alone until they receive support. Even after they receive help, it is crucial to still follow up to see how they are doing. 

If we are all more educated about warning signs, risk factors, and resources, we can intercede in the suicide epidemic. Together, we can end the stigma associated with mental health and get people the support they need. 

1) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

2) BeThe1To

Ashleigh Diserio Consulting works with individuals and organizations, assisting them in gleaning insight into a person’s life, motivation, and past and future behavior, so certain areas of behavior can be understood with a high degree of accuracy. We provide services in the areas of criminal and intelligence investigations, management support, threat assessment, insider threat support, and education and training.