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Know Suicide's Warning Signs

or other means of committing suicide.
  • Wide mood swings -- feeling extremely up one day and terribly down the next.
  • Feelings of great agitation, rage or uncontrolled anger, or wanting to get revenge.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits, appearance, behavior, or personality.
  • Risky or self-destructive behavior, such as driving recklessly or taking illegal drugs.
  • Sudden calmness (a sign that a person has made the decision to attempt suicide).
  • Life crises, trauma or setbacks, including school, work or relationship problems, job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, financial difficulties, diagnosis of a terminal illness.
  • Putting one's affairs in order, including giving away belongings, visiting family members and friends, drawing up a will or writing a suicide note.
  • If a person is threatening to commit suicide, take it seriously, remain calm and take the following steps, ACEP advises:

    • Don't leave the person alone. Prevent access to firearms, knives, medications or any other item the person may use to commit suicide.
    • Don't try to handle the situation alone. Call 911 or the local emergency response number. Phone the person's doctor, the police, a local crisis intervention team, or others who are trained to help.
    • While waiting for help, listen closely to the person. Let the person know you're listening by maintaining eye contact, moving closer, or holding his or her hand, if appropriate.
    • Ask questions to determine what method of suicide the person is considering and whether he or she has an organized plan.
    • Remind the person that help is available.
    • If the person does attempt suicide, immediately call for emergency medical assistance and administer first aid, if necessary.

    More information

    For more on preventing suicide, visit the

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