How do you Remember the Warning Signs of Suicide?
Here’s an Easy-to-Remember Mnemonic:
IS PATH WARM?
A person in acute risk for suicidal behavior most often will show:
Warning Signs of Acute Risk:
- Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or,
- Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
These might be remembered as expressed or communicated ideation. If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.
Additional Warning Signs:
- Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
- No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Feeling trapped - like there’s no way out
- Withdrawal from friends, family and society
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Dramatic mood changes.
If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.
These warning signs were compiled by a task force of expert clinical-researchers and ‘translated’ for the general public.
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What To Do
Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide:
Be Aware of Feelings
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Many people at some time in their lives think about completing suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and thoughts they experience:
If you experience these feelings, get help!
- Can’t stop the pain
- Can’t think clearly
- Can’t make decisions
- Can’t see any way out
- Can’t sleep, eat or work
- Can’t get out of depression
- Can’t make the sadness go away
- Can’t see a future without pain
- Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
- Can’t get someone’s attention
- Can’t seem to get control
If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
- A community mental health agency
- A private therapist or counselor
- A school counselor or psychologist
- A family physician
- A suicide prevention or crisis center