Warning Signs

Warning Signs are the earliest observable clues that show the risk of suicide for an individual in the near-term (within minutes, hours or days.) Warning signs can be organized around the following phrase:

IS PATH WARM

Ideation / thinking or talking about suicide
Substance Abuse / excessive or increased

Purposelessness / no reasons for living
Anxiety /agitation / insomnia (unable to sleep)
Trapped / feeling no way out
Hopelessness / nothing will ever change

Withdrawal from friends, family, society
Anger (uncontrolled)/ rage / seeking revenge
Recklessness/ risky acts / unthinking
Mood Changes (dramatic)

Warning signs can be grouped into categories. The first category requires immediate action:

Observable and strong signs of a suicidal crisis:

  1. Someone threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  2. Someone looking for the means (gun, pills, rope, etc.) to kill themselves
  3. Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

Call the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112 or 911 or seek other immediate help when you hear, say or see any of these behaviors. (Not in Maine? Call 1-800-273-8255) Do not leave the person alone.

Not an emergency, but a mental health assessment is needed:

Seek help by contacting a Mental Health Professional or call for a referral if you notice anyone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors:

  1. Hopelessness
  2. Rage, anger, seeking revenge
  3. Acting reckless/engaging in risky activities
  4. Feeling trapped (like there is no way out)
  5. Increasing alcohol or drug use
  6. Withdrawing from friends, family or society
  7. Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep/sleeping all the time
  8. Dramatic changes in mood
  9. No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

Definitions:

  • Risk Factors (pdf*) - long standing conditions, stressful events or situations that may increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt or death.
  • Protective Factors (pdf*) - the positive conditions, personal and social resources that promote resiliency and reduce the potential of suicide and other high-risk behaviors.