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Suicide Warning Signs and How to Help

Suicide warning signs are specific behaviors that could indicate someone may be thinking about suicide. Recognizing warning signs is an important first step in being able to help someone. The more warning signs you see, the more likely it is that your friend may be thinking about suicide.

Suicide warning signs include:

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide. This may be in person or on social media.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations.
    • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased).
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context.
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability.
  • Direct or indirect verbal cues about their suicidal thoughts. These are typically communicated through feelings of being trapped, helpless and hopeless.
    • Direct verbal cues are clear statements expressing suicidal thoughts, such as "I'm thinking about killing myself," while indirect verbal cues serve more as hints that a student is thinking about suicide. These can be statements like "Things will be better when I'm gone” or "I want to go to sleep and never wake up."

To learn more about warning signs, visit

How to Help

If a friend is showing suicide warning signs, it's crucial to take their distress seriously and offer appropriate support. Here's how you can help:

  • Stay Calm and Listen: Approach your friend with a calm and non-judgmental demeanor. Let them know you're there to listen and that their feelings are valid.
  • Express Concern: Let your friend know that you're worried about them. Use "I" statements to express your feelings, such as "I'm really concerned about you and want to help."
  • Take It Seriously: If your friend mentions suicide, self-harm, or feeling hopeless, take their words seriously. It's better to overreact than to ignore their distress.
  • Ask Directly: If you feel comfortable, ask your friend directly if they're thinking about suicide. This shows that you care and are willing to talk openly about their feelings.
  • Express Concern: Let your friend know that you're worried about them. Use "I" statements to express your feelings, such as "I'm really concerned about you and want to help."
  • Encourage Professional Help: Suggest that your friend talk to a mental health professional, such as a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Offer to help them find resources if needed. Contact the Counseling and Mental Health Center at or 512-471-3515. Call the 24/7 CMHC Crisis Line at 512-471-2255 or visit for additional resources.
  • Stay with Them: If your friend is in immediate danger, don't leave them alone. Encourage them to reach out to the mental health crisis line 512-471-2255, and if necessary, stay with them or ask someone else for help.
  • Limit Access to Means: If your friend has expressed a specific plan for suicide, try to limit their access to any means they could use to harm themselves, such as medications or weapons.
  • Contact Your Support Network: Reach out to other friends, family members, or trusted individuals who can also offer support. You don't have to handle this alone.
  • Be Patient: Recovery takes time, and your friend may not immediately feel better. Continue to offer your support and check in on them regularly.
  • Follow Up: Continue to check in on your friend even after the initial crisis has passed. Let them know you're there for them in the long run.

Remember, if your friend is in immediate danger or their safety is at risk, contact a mental health crisis line (512-471-2255) or emergency services (911) in your country.

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