Understanding SuicideUnderstanding Suicide

Suicide is a public health problem affecting people of all ages. The NSPCC wants you to know that the information provided here is not a substitute for getting advice from your doctor. It is intended only as an introduction to suicide prevention.

For more information about suicide, please visit the resource section of this website. It contains links to other websites with a wealth of information about suicide prevention.

Green Stop Light

Protection Against Suicide

Green Light...Good to Go!

Many people wonder what can be done to protect loved ones from becoming suicidal. A simplistic answer is that protection can be enhanced by addressing the protective factors listed here.

  • Connect to community, family, friends
  • Be supportive – Family and community support gives people a way to connect
  • Restrict access to highly lethal methods of suicide – Especially firearms
  • Establish a relationship with a doctor, clergy, teacher, counselor or other trusted professional
  • Get help for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders – Especially depression

Yellow Stop Light

Suicide Risk Factors

Yellow Light...Proceed With Caution

Some factors put us at higher risk for suicide. Risk factors are like a yellow light alerting us to proceed with caution. The presence of a single risk factor doesn't necessarily mean that a person is at high risk of suicide, but a number of risk factors together should signal concern. The presence of depression / bipolar disorder; hopelessness; substance abuse in combination with other risk factors increases risk significantly.

  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Mental disorders-particularly mood disorders
  • Co-occurring mental and alcohol and substance abuse disorders
  • Family history of suicide
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and /or aggressive tendencies
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment when it is needed
  • Relational, social, work, or financial loss
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods, especially guns
  • Lack of Connectedness
  • Substance Abuse

Red Stop Light

Suicide Warning Signs

Red Light--Stop--Get Help

Warning signs go beyond risk – they are evident in what people say and do. The presence of warning signs is like a Red Light signaling you to stop and get help now!

  • Talking, reading or writing about suicide or death.
  • Talking about feeling worthless or helpless.
  • Saying things like, “I'm going to kill myself,” “I wish I was dead,” or “I shouldn't have been born.”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Giving things away or returning borrowed items.
  • Self destructive or reckless behavior.
  • Significant change in behavior
  • A sense of hopelessness about their situation
Bryan LGH Medical Center University of Nebraska Public Policy Center The Kim Foundation
This webpage was developed under grant number 5U79SM061741 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) via the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health. The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.