Risk Factors

Risk factors are long standing conditions, stressful events, or situations that may increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt or death. Risk factors do not cause suicide, but when many factors are present; these may increase an individual’s vulnerability.

  • Experience mental illness (90% of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness)
  • Previous suicidal behavior
  • Family history of suicide
  • Bullying and/or harassment
  • Sexual/physical abuse
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Problematic parenting or family environments

Warning Signs

Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, taking those signs seriously and knowing how to respond to them.

  • Making suicide threats or statements about wanting to die
  • Expressing feelings of being trapped
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Seeking access to firearms or other means
  • Long periods of depression
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Recent recklessness and taking unnecessary risks
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and society


What to Do

ASK Directly ask if the person is having thoughts of suicide.

LISTEN Don’t judge and don’t try to solve problems; focus on getting help.

REFER Contact a counselor, mental health professional, local crisis center or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).