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Suicide prevention

Prevention is possible!

Although the underlying causes to suicidal thoughts and attempts of a person can seem overwhelming, there are several ways that you can help with prevention efforts.

First, know the warning signs...

There is no typical suicide victim; however, there are some common characteristics.

Some of the most common are:

  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Current talk of suicide or making a plan
  • Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness and withdrawal
  • Increased alcohol and/or drug use
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying goodbye
  • Experiences drastic changes in behavior

These are especially noteworthy in light of recent losses, such as the death of a friend or family member

Some warning signs that might indicate warning signs or emotional distress:

  • Talking about being a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

Next, show you care...

If someone you know is showing these warning signs, take them seriously. Showing that you care by expressing concern and giving them space to talk is a good start. 

  • “I have noticed ___ and I feel concerned about you. Can you tell me what’s happening?”
  • “You’ve been acting different lately. I want to check in about how you’re doing.”
  • “It seems like ___ has been hard on you. Let’s talk about it.”

Be direct...

The only way to find out if suicide is on someone’s mind is to ask. This is difficult to do, and some of our cultures discourage talking openly about suicide. But when we ask, we can get someone the help they need. Asking directly and nonjudgmentally gives you the opportunity to help.

  • “Sometimes when ___ happens to people, they think about suicide. Has suicide been on your mind?”
  • “When you said ___, I wondered if you meant you were thinking about suicide. Are you?”
  • “When you went through this before, you talked about suicide. Is that on your mind this time?”

Get help...

Help is available for people feeling emotional distress or thinking about suicide. If someone tells you they are having suicidal thoughts, do not keep it a secret and do not try to handle it alone! You can:

  • Call the 988 Lifeline.
  • Call the King County Crisis Line at Crisis Connections at 1-866-427-4747
  • Help the person connect with their health care provider, therapist, school counselor, or other professional supports.

Make the environment safer

If you live with someone at risk of suicide, you can make your home suicide safer. Here are some tips:

Make sure items of substances in your home that can be used in a suicide attempt are secured or temporarily stored outside your home.