Some behaviors are commonly associated with suicide. All too often, friends and family of people who die by suicide are unaware of these warning signs until it is too late. Although not all people who end their lives exhibit these behaviors, and many who do are not suicidal, you should still be on the lookout for them:

  • social isolation, particularly if self-imposed
  • drastic mood swings or personality changes
  • neglecting home, health, finances, or pets
  • exaggerated complaints of aches or pains
  • giving away cherished belongings to loved ones or putting one's affairs in order
  • sudden calm or cheerfulness after a period of depression
  • frequent use of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • verbal threats of suicide or statements that suggest a desire to die

If you notice any of these behaviors, express your concern to your loved one and suggest that he or she call his or her physician, or you can help the person to see a family physician or mental health professional. Another option is to call a suicide hotline.

National Suicide Hotlines

The following hotlines are toll-free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
  • 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)

If you are very worried, call 911 or take your friend or family member to the nearest emergency room to be evaluated by mental health professionals on staff. When it comes to suicide concerns, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 17 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 28 Apr 2015