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  • Home Knowledge Center Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

    Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

    It’s valuable to be able to recognize signs that might warn of a suicide attempt.

    Suicide is a devastating act that can seem to have come from nowhere. While we can’t accurately predict an attempt, it can be helpful to understand what might put a person at risk. If you think a loved one is at risk for suicide, please call: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

    Suicide Risk Factors

    Conditions that could make suicide more likely:

    Depression or other mental health illness1

    If several of the following conditions occur nearly every day for 2 weeks or more, it could indicate depression:

    • Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, sad
    • Loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities
    • Changes in eating, sleeping patterns
    • Exhaustion, low energy
    • Feeling anxious, irritable, restless
    • Physical pain without a physical cause
    • Drop in performance at work or school
    • Trouble focusing or making decisions
    • Not wanting to be around other people
    • Thoughts of death or suicide

    Other risk factors

    • Alcohol and drug use
    • A previous suicide attempt
    • A family history of depression, suicide, abuse
    • A major loss–a death, relationship, home
    • An event that causes shame, guilt, disgrace
    • Physical health problems
    • Learning of someone else’s suicidal behavior
    • Easy access to the means to commit suicide
    • Being impulsive or isolated

    Warning Signs of Suicide

    These signs may indicate that a suicide attempt is close:

    • Direct threats to hurt or kill oneself
    • Looking for a way to commit suicide, for example, buying a gun or stockpiling pills
    • A focus on death–either by talking, writing, drawing, or posting online about death or suicide; listening to music or looking at websites related to death
    • Having a plan for an attempt; generally, the more detailed the plan, the higher the risk
    • Behaviors and moods associated with depression as described
    • A change in personality or mood–including suddenly becoming happy or calm after being sad
    • Neglect of appearance or cleanliness
    • Doing risky or self-destructive things
    • Giving away meaningful belongings
    • Taking care of end-of-life affairs, such as making a will, or getting life insurance in order
    • Saying goodbye to friends and loved ones

    Take extra caution if a person exhibits one or more warning signs and also has one or more risk factors or appears intoxicated. For more information, visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

    If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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  •,, accessed January 31, 2022.

    This information is for educational purposes and intended to promote consumer health. It is not medical advice and is not a substitute for proper care provided by a physician. Cigna HealthcareSM assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation, or application of any information.

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