Suicide Prevention

"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

Myths about Suicide

  • Myth: A youth threatening suicide is really not serious about completing suicide.
  • Fact: Those youth who talk about suicide or exhibit suicidal behaviors are serious suicide risks. As a friend, parent or professional caregiver, it is better to overestimate the risk of suicide and intervene than to ignore or minimize the behaviors.
  • Myth: Suicide cannot be prevented because, somehow, a suicidal youth will find a way to do it.
  • Fact: The majority of the time youth who kill themselves have given definite signs or talked about suicide. The keys to prevention are recognizing the warning signs and knowing what to do to help. Remember that most suicidal youth do not really want to die, they just want their pain to end.
  • Myth: Talking about suicide will cause someone to attempt suicide.
  • Fact: Talking about suicide does not create or increase risk; it actually reduces it. If you have observed any of the warning signs, chances are the youth is already thinking about suicide. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way; ask the question, "are you thinking about suicide?" Open talk and genuine concern are a source of relief and key elements in preventing the immediate danger of suicide.
from Youth Suicide Prevention Program

Know the Warning Signs: Suicide victims are not trying to end their life - they are trying to end the pain!

About 80% of the time, people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.

Watch for these signs. They may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.

  • 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, withdrawal
  • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye

These warning signs are especially noteworthy in light of:

  • a recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
  • a recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents
  • news reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community

Other key risk factors include:

  • Readily accessible firearms
  • Impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
  • Lack of connection to family and friends (no one to talk to)

What to do if you see the warning signs?

If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If he or she has expressed an immediate plan, or has access to a gun or other potentially deadly means, Do not leave him or her alone. Get help immediately.

from The Youth Suicide Prevention Program


Visit Kate Bornstein's Book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
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Someone You Know is Suicidal

The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that 95% of all suicides occur at the peak of a depressive episode. Education, recognition and treatment are the keys to suicide prevention.


  • Symptoms of Depression
  • Warning Signs of Suicide


Stigma associated with depressive illnesses can prevent people from getting help. Your willingness to talk about depression and suicide with a friend, family member, or co-worker can be the first step in getting help and preventing suicide.

If you see the warning signs of suicide

Begin a dialogue by asking questions. Suicidal thoughts are common with depressive illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a nonjudgmental way can be the push a person needs to get help. Questions to ask:

  • "Do you ever feel so badly that you think of suicide?"
  • "Do you have a plan?"
  • "Do you know when you would do it (today, next week)?"
  • "Do you have access to what you would use?"

Asking these questions will allow you to determine if your friend is in immediate danger, and get help if needed. A suicidal person should see a doctor or psychiatrist immediately. Calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room are valid options. Always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously.

Never keep a plan for suicide a secret. Donít worry about endangering a friendship if you truly feel a life is in danger. It's better to regret something you did, than something you didn't do to help a friend.

Don't try to minimize problems or shame a person into changing her mind. Your opinion of a person's situation is irrelevant. Trying to convince a person it's not that bad, or that she has everything to live for will only increase her feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Reassure her help is available, that depression is treatable, and that suicidal feelings are temporary.

If you feel the person isn't in immediate danger, acknowledge the pain as legitimate and offer to work together to get help. Make sure you follow through. This is one instance where you must be tenacious in your follow-up. Help find a doctor or a mental health professional, participate in making the first phone call, or go along to the first appointment. If you're in a position to help, don't assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking.

from Suicide Awareness Voices of Education