Suicide Prevention

If You Know Someone in Crisis

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the Lifeline’s website or the Crisis Text Line’s website.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Service members and Veterans in crisis, as well as their family members and friends, with qualified, caring Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text messaging service. Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone or send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder. You can also start a confidential online chat session at veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255   Crisis Text Line - Text HELLO to 741741, Free, 24/7, Confidential   Veterans Crisis Line 800-273-8255

Introduction

Suicide is a major public health concern. Over 48,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2018; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.

Signs and Symptoms

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

Here are five steps you can take to #BeThe1To help someone in emotional pain:

  1. ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question, but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  2. KEEP THEM SAFE: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
  3. BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
  4. HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) and the Crisis Text Line’s number (741741) in your phone, so it’s there when you need it. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  5. STAY CONNECTED: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

Risk Factors

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. Many different factors contribute to someone making a suicide attempt. But people most at risk tend to share specific characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Chronic pain
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Having recently been released from prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. It is important to note that suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored.

Often, family and friends are the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can be the first step toward helping an at-risk individual find treatment with someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. See the resources on NIMH’s Find Help for Mental Illnesses page if you’re not sure where to start.

Suicide is complex. Treatments and therapies for people with suicidal thoughts or actions will vary with age, gender, physical and mental well-being, and with individual experiences. NIMH has focused research on identifying people at risk for suicide and identifying effective interventions.

Identifying People at Risk for Suicide

Treatments and Therapies

Brief Interventions

Psychotherapies

Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to help individuals who have attempted suicide (see below). These types of interventions may prevent someone from making another attempt.

NIMH’s Find Help for Mental Illnesses page can help you locate a mental health provider in your area. Here are tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health and get the most of your doctor’s visit.

Medication

Some individuals at risk for suicide might benefit from medication. Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication or medication combination, as well as the right dose. Because many individuals at risk for suicide often have a mental illness and substance use problems, individuals might benefit from medication along with psychosocial intervention.

Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication used primarily to treat individuals with schizophrenia. To date, it is the only medication with a specific U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indication for reducing the risk of recurrent suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

If you are prescribed a medication, be sure you:

  • Talk with your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the medications you’re taking.
  • Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects also are possible.
  • Report any concerns about side effects to your doctor right away. You may need a change in the dose or a different medication.
  • Report serious side effects to the FDA MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone at 1-800-332-1088. You or your doctor may send a report.

Other medications have been used to treat suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but more research is needed to show the benefit of these options. For basic information about these medications, you can visit the NIMH Mental Health Medications webpage. For the most up-to-date information on medications, side effects, and warnings, visit the FDA website.

Collaborative Care

Collaborative Care has been shown to be an effective way to treat depression and reduce suicidal thoughts. A team-based Collaborative Care program adds two new types of services to usual primary care: behavioral health care management and consultations with a mental health specialist.

The behavioral health care manager becomes part of the patient’s treatment team and helps the primary care provider evaluate the patient’s mental health. If the patient receives a diagnosis of a mental health disorder and wants treatment, the care manager, primary care provider, and patient work together to develop a treatment plan. This plan may include medication, psychotherapy, or other appropriate options.

Later, the care manager reaches out to see if the patient likes the plan, is following the plan, and if the plan is working or if changes are needed to improve management of the patient’s disorders. The care manager and the primary care provider also regularly review the patient’s status and care plan with a mental health specialist, like a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse, to be sure the patient is getting the best treatment options and improving.

Ongoing Research

To know who is most at risk and to prevent suicide, scientists need to understand the role of long-term factors (such as childhood experiences) as well as more immediate factors like mental health and recent life events. Researchers also are looking at how genes can either increase risk or make someone more resilient to loss and hardships.

Recent findings from NIMH-funded research are listed in the Research and Statistics section below, and NIMH along with other NIH Institutes are funding a number of ongoing studies related to suicide.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

FCC Designates 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The FCC has designated 988 as the new nationwide number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be completed by July 2022. In the meantime please continue to share 1-800-273-TALK (8255) with anyone wishing to connect to the Lifeline. 988 is NOT CURRENTLY ACTIVE nationally and may not connect callers to the Lifeline.

LEARN MORE

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

ABOUT THE LIFELINE

We understand that every struggle is different. Experience the stories of people like you, and how they overcame crisis to find hope and recovery.

READ STORIES OF HOPE & RECOVERY

What Happens When You Call The Lifeline?

Show What Happens When You Call The Lifeline

Everyone Plays A Role In Suicide Prevention

GET HELP NOW Get resources for yourself or be the difference for a loved one by offering support and understanding.

HELP YOUR LOCAL CENTER Lifeline centers range across the U.S. and rely on state and local funding to operate. Find out how you can help.

JOIN THE NETWORK Local crisis centers can support the fight against suicide by joining the Lifeline’s national network.

PROMOTE THE LIFELINE Spread the word about the Lifeline’s free, confidential, 24/7 services and raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Call the Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Have A Question?

See if we’ve answered it on our FAQ page!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Shareable Resources on Suicide Prevention

Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. Use these resources to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. Use these resources to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable.  For more information on suicide prevention, visit our health topic page or download our brochures.

Help raise awareness by sharing resources that help others recognize the warning signs for suicide and know how to get help.

Share these Graphics and Social Media Messages

Download and share these informational graphics to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. You can share the text and image directly to your Facebook News Feed or Story by clicking on the button to the right of the graphic. NIMH encourages you to use the hashtag #ShareNIMH in your social media posts to connect with people and organizations with similar goals. For more ideas on how to use these education and awareness resources, visit our help page.

Let's talk about suicide prevention. Share science. Share hope.

Let’s Talk About Suicide Prevention

Let’s talk about suicide prevention. Everyone can play a role. Use these resources to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. Share science. Share hope. https://go.usa.gov/xvWK6 #shareNIMH

September is #SuicidePreventionMonth. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored. Get help as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor.

If You’re in Crisis, Help is Available

If you’re in crisis, there are options available to help you cope. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time to speak to someone and get support. For confidential support available 24/7 for everyone in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://go.usa.gov/xftYC. #shareNIMH

Save the number, save a life. Add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to your phone now–it could save a life later. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24/7/365. Visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or http://bit.ly/2GTBjkq for more info. #ShareNIMH

Save the Number, Save a Life

Save the number, save a life. Add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to your phone now–it could save a life later. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24/7/365. Visit https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa for more info. #shareNIMH

Send a text, save a life. Add the Crisis Text Line to your phone now–it could save a life later. Text “HOME” to 741741 in the United States to be connected to a Crisis Counselor over text message. Visit www.crisistextline.org or http://bit.ly/2GTBjkq for more info. #ShareNIMH

Send a Text, Save a Life

Send a text, save a life. Add the Crisis Text Line to your phone now–it could save a life later. Text “HELLO” to 741741 in the United States to be connected to a Crisis Counselor over text message. Visit https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa for more info. #shareNIMH

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored. Get help as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored. Get help as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor. Start by visiting: https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa #shareNIMH

How you can make a difference in suicide prevention? Learn about what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm by reading these 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain:

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

Disponible en españolHow can you make a difference in suicide prevention? Learn about what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm by reading these 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain: https://go.usa.gov/xyxGc #shareNIMH

Don’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your mental health. Start the conversation.

Tips for Talking with Your Health Care Provider about Your Mental Health

Disponible en españolDon’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your mental health. Start the conversation. Here are 5 tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health: https://go.usa.gov/xV3hH #shareNIMH

Signs that someone is thinking about suicide: 1) Talking about wanting to die, feeling great guilt or shame, being a burden to others. 2) Feeling empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live; extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage; unbearable emotional or physical pain. 3) Changing behavior, such as making a plan or researching ways to die,ithdrawing from friends, saying good bye, giving away important items, or making a will;  taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast; displaying extreme mood swings; eating or sleeping more or less; using drugs or alcohol more often.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Disponible en españolSuicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives. Learn about behaviors that may be a sign that someone is thinking about suicide. For more information, visit https://go.usa.gov/xVCyZ #shareNIMH

Spread the Word with these Social Media Messages

Share these messages directly to your Facebook or Twitter accounts by clicking the “Share on” links to the right of the text.

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Find help here: https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa #shareNIMH

More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Learn more about suicide prevention: https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa #shareNIMH

Suicide is a major public health problem and a leading cause of death in the US. Read this NIMH fact sheet, which can help you, a friend, or a family member learn about warning signs, risk factors, and suicide prevention: https://go.usa.gov/xdQUf #shareNIMH

Learn about what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm, and how you can make a difference in suicide prevention: https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa #shareNIMH

How common is suicide in children and teens? What are the risk factors and warnings signs of suicide? Download the free NIMH suicide prevention FAQs brochure: https://go.usa.gov/xdQU6 #shareNIMH

Share Our Facebook Live Event

Watch and like our Facebook Live on suicide prevention featuring NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon and NIMH suicide prevention expert, Dr. Jane Pearson. You can also comment on the video, or share directly to your Facebook Timeline, News Feed, or Story.

Use Videos to Educate Others

Click “Copy Link” link to post these videos on social media, or embed them on your website.


Suicide Prevention

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

FCC DESIGNATES ‘988’ AS 3-DIGIT NUMBER FOR NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE

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