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Suicide Prevention

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about suicide prevention?

You may see suicide as the only way to escape emotional or physical pain and suffering. Help is available from people who care about you, and from professionals trained in suicide prevention. Prevention includes everything you and others can do to stop you from taking your life.

What are the warning signs of suicide?

The following can help you and others recognize that you are struggling:

  • Talking about your plan for attempting suicide, or wanting to read or write about death or suicide
  • Cutting yourself, burning your skin with cigarettes, or driving recklessly
  • Drug or alcohol use, not taking your prescribed medicine, or taking too much
  • Not wanting to spend time with others or doing things you enjoy, feeling bored, or not wanting anyone to praise you
  • Changes in your appetite, sleep habits, energy levels, or weight
  • Feeling angry, or lashing out at others
  • A need to give away or throw away your belongings
  • Often skipping work
  • Suddenly not taking medicine for a mental illness without talking to your healthcare provider
  • Suddenly not going to therapy

The following are always available to help you:

Contact a suicide prevention organization:

  • For the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:
    • Call or text 988
    • Send a chat on https://988lifeline.org/chat
    • Call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
  • For the Suicide Hotline, call 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)

What should I do if I am having thoughts of suicide?

  • Talk to someone you trust. Be honest about your thoughts and feelings about suicide. You can call a suicide prevention center if you do not want to talk to someone you know.
  • Contact your therapist. Your therapist will help you create a crisis plan to follow if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. The plan will include the names of people to call during a crisis. Share your plan with friends and family. Ask someone to stay with you if a crisis occurs. Your healthcare provider can give you a list of therapists if you do not have one.
  • Ask someone to remove items that can be harmful. Do not keep medicines, weapons, or alcohol in your home.

How are suicidal thoughts treated?

  • Medicines may be given to prevent mood swings, or to decrease anxiety or depression. You will need to take all medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your healthcare provider. A sudden stop can be harmful. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for the medicine to help you feel better.
  • Suicide risk assessment means healthcare providers will ask questions about your suicide thoughts and plans. They will ask how often you think about suicide and if you have tried it before. They will ask if you have begun to hurt yourself, such as with cutting or reckless driving. They may ask if you have access to weapons or drugs.
  • A safety plan includes a list of people or groups to contact if you have suicidal feelings again. The list may include friends, family members, a spiritual leader, and others you trust. You may be asked to make a verbal agreement or sign a contract that you will not try to harm yourself.
  • A therapist can help you identify and change negative feelings or beliefs about yourself. This may help change the way you feel and act. A therapist can also help you find ways to cope with things that cannot be changed. A therapist can also help if you use alcohol or drugs and need help to quit. Drugs and alcohol can make suicidal feelings worse and make you more likely to act on them.

What are some positive things I can do for myself?

  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can lift your mood, give you more energy, and make it easier to sleep.
    ASIAN FAMILY WALKING FOR EXERCISE
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, and beans. Try to eat regularly even if you do not feel hungry. Depression can increase from a lack of nutrition or if you are hungry for long periods of time.
    Healthy Foods
  • Create a sleep routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Let your healthcare provider know if you are having trouble sleeping.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Phone: 1- 800 - 988
    Web Address: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org OR https://988lifeline.org/chat/
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
    8120 Penn Ave. S., Ste. 470
    Bloomington , Minnesota 55431
    Phone: 1- 952 - 946-7998
    Web Address: http://www.save.org or https://save.org/find-help/international-resources/

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or ask someone to call if:

  • You do something on purpose to hurt yourself.
  • You make a plan to attempt suicide.

When should I or someone close to me call my doctor or therapist?

  • You act out in anger, are reckless, or are abusing alcohol or drugs.
  • You have serious thoughts of suicide, even with treatment.
  • You have more thoughts of suicide when you are alone.
  • You stop eating, or you begin to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.