High Risk Warning Signs
A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:
• threaten to hurt or kill themselves
• actively look for ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets or buying equipment that could be used to suffocate themselves
• talk or write about death, dying or suicide
If the person has been diagnosed with a mental health condition, contact a member of their care team or the centre or clinic where they were being treated.
If you do not have any relevant contact details, contact your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and ask for the contact details of the nearest crisis resolution team (CRT). CRTs are teams of mental healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, who work with people experiencing severe psychological and emotional distress.
While waiting for the person to receive treatment, remove any possible means of suicide from their immediate environment, such as medication, knives or other sharp objects, and household chemicals, such as bleach.
If you think there is a high risk of a person dying by suicide before you can get the appropriate professional help, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Other warning signs
A person may also be at risk of attempting suicide if they:
• complain of feelings of hopelessness, saying things such as, “What’s the point of even trying? I know things are never going to get better”
• have episodes of sudden rage and anger
• act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
• talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they cannot see any way out of their current situation
• start to abuse drugs or alcohol, or use more than they usually do
• become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
• appear anxious and agitated
• are unable to sleep or sleep all the time
• have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
• talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
• lose interest in their appearance, such as dressing badly, no longer wearing make-up or not washing regularly
• put their affairs in order
If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. See Suicide – helping others for more information.
Also share your concerns with a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition, or your GP.