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How do you know if someone is thinking of killing themselves?

Most of the time, if someone is having thoughts of suicide, they will try to tell someone. But, they are usually careful about who and how they tell because of the shame, stigma and fear around suicide.

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Behaviours add

Behaviours that are linked to suicidal thoughts may include:

  • mood changes – sad when they are usually happy, getting angry, annoyed easily, being really happy when they are usually down
  • withdrawing from friends and activities they used to enjoy
  • increased or heavy use of alcohol or other drugs or substances
  • reckless risk taking – dangerous stunts, driving while drunk
  • self-injury
  • more irritable or aggressive
  • skipping school
  • too focused on death and suicide (for example writing about it, drawing pictures about death)
  • body language—even if they say they’re fine, they may show their true thoughts and feelings through their gestures and facial expressions
  • giving away possessions

Expressions add

Things you hear them say that may be linked to suicidal thoughts include:

  • Talking or joking about suicide: “I just want to off myself.”
  • “I wish I was dead.”
  • “Nothing will ever get better.”
  • “Nothing ever goes right for me.”
  • “What’s the point in anything anymore?”
  • “All of my problems will end soon.”
  • “No one can help me.”

Remember this is a list of common signs. What’s most important is if you notice any changes that worry you, even if they are not this list. Trust your instincts.

If you are concerned someone may be thinking about suicide, the best thing to do is ask them directly “are you thinking about suicide,” “have you thought about killing yourself?” or “do you have a plan for how you will kill yourself?”

See Tips for Talking With Your Friend for more information getting tough conversations started.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.