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What Everyone Needs to Know About Preventing Suicide

Updated on October 24, 2014


Every year

  • There are about 10 youth suicides for every 100,000 youth

Every day

  • There are about 11 youth suicides

Every 2 hours and 11 minutes

  • A person under the age of 25 completes suicide

Why Do I Need to Know About This?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens. For every suicide, there are 50-200 attempts. 25% of high school students are considering suicide. YOU can make a difference in yourself or someone else’s life.

Assess for Depression Risk and Symptoms


  • History of depression

  • Drug or alcohol use, smoking

  • Having stressful life events

  • Having few friends or personal relationships

  • Having a serious illness

  • Having certain personality traits: low self-esteem, pessimistic, overly dependent


  • Feeling sad or unhappy

  • Lack of interest in usually enjoyable activities

  • Significant weight gain or loss

  • Significant sleep gain or loss

  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt

  • Loss of energy

  • Agitation, irritability, restlessness

  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness

  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide attempt or plan for suicide

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide


  • Ideation

  • Substance abuse

  • Purposelessness

  • Anxiety

  • Trapped

  • Hopelessness

  • Withdrawal

  • Anger

  • Recklessness

  • Mood changes

Suicide Risk Factors

  • Family history of suicide

  • Family history of child abuse

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • History of mental disorder, especially depression

  • History of alcohol and substance abuse

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Impulsive or aggressive behaviors

  • Multiple local suicides (local epidemic of suicide)

  • Isolation

  • Loss (relationship, social, work, money)

  • Physical illness

  • Easy access to lethal methods (firearms)

  • Unwillingness to seek help because of shame

Myths About Suicide

  1. People talk about suicide to get attention. People who die by suicide usually talk about it first.

  2. Once someone decides to try suicide, there is nothing you can do to stop them. Suicide can be prevented. Most people do not want to die, they want to stop their pain.

  3. Suicide only strikes people of a certain gender, race, age, status, etc. Suicide can strike anyone.

  4. People who attempt suicide will not try again. People who survive often try again.

  5. People who attempt suicide are crazy or weak. No! They are in pain or may have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Many who are very “strong” die by suicide. Anyone can attempt suicide.

  6. When people who are suicidal feel better, they are no longer suicidal. Sometimes they feel better because they have a plan and may feel a sense of relief that the pain will be over.

Protect Yourself! Communicate with Family

Talk with family about values and customs

Spend time doing enjoyable activities together

Talk about sensitive issues

Make decisions together

Eat meals together

Protect Yourself! Increase Self Esteem

Don’t compare yourself to other people

Don’t focus on things that haven’t happened yet

Be thankful for the things you have

Don’t love to please others

Protect Yourself! Manage Anger

Take a timeout

Once you are calm, express your anger

Get some exercise

Think before you speak

Identify possible solutions

Stick with “I” statements

Don’t hold a grudge

Use humor to release tension

Practice relaxation skills

Know when to seek help

Protect Yourself! Practice Stress Reduction and Effective Coping

Take care of yourself!

  • Eat well

  • Exercise

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed

Avoid drugs and alcohol

Find support, reach out

  • Parent, relative, coach, friend, counselor, nurse, doctor, pastor

Express yourself

Get involved-volunteer, play sports, play an instrument, join a program

Stay in touch with others

Crisis Intervention

Help a Suicidal Person

Always take suicidal comments seriously

Call 911 if someone is at high risk for suicide

Try not to act shocked

  • Stay calm

  • Talk with them in a matter of fact manner

  • Get help immediately

Do not handle the situation alone

Call referral sources

While waiting for help to arrive

Listen to everything the person is saying

Comfort the person with words of encouragement

Let the person know you are deeply concerned

Do not leave them alone

Talk openly about suicide

  • Suicidal?
  • Method?
  • Have what you need?
  • When?

If a firearm is mentioned, call the police to remove

Don’t be judgmental

Be careful of statements you make

Listen, be kind, be gentle, be understanding

Let the person express emotion in the way they desire (but do not allow violence)

Follow up on a regular basis

Never keep suicidal intentions a secret

We Must Eliminate the Social Stigma!

Be a role model/peer leader

Name trusted adults to talk to and spread the word

Promote asking for help

Promote effective coping

Promote positive healthy behaviors

Discuss referral sources and crisis intervention with friends

Connect peers with community organizations and activities


American Association of Suicidology. (n.d.). Fact sheets. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. (2010). Suicide: Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Coping with stress. Retrieved from

Levin, H. (2006, August 13). Tea party [video file]. Retrieved from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2012). Anger management. Retrieved from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2012). Depression. Retrieved from

Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley. (n.d.). Agency programs. Retrieved from

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2012). Family forum. Retrieved form

Self Esteem School. (2011). Increase self esteem. Retrieved from

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. (2011). Making educators partners in suicide prevention. Retrieved from (n.d.). Suicide myths. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Child-family connectedness. Retrieved from

Vassilas, O. (2009, April 1). Divorce and family dysfunction PSA project [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wyman, P., Hendricks, B., LoMurray, M., Schmeelk-Cone, K., Petrova, M., Yu, Q., Walsh, E., Xin, T., & Wang, W. (2010). An outcome evaluation of the sources of strength suicide prevention program delivered by adolescent peer leaders in high schools. American Journal of Public Health 100(9), 1653-1661.

Xtouchingheaven. (2012, February 21). There will be a day Dave Karofsky [Video file]. Retrieved from


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