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Suicide Prevention Information

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If someone is seriously depressed and thinking of attempting suicide there are often warning signs that family and friends can pick up on. Noticing and acting upon these warning signs could save a life.

Most people who are considering suicide are willing to talk about their problems if someone shows they care. Don't be afraid of discussing the subject with someone you think may be suicidal. Talking about suicide won't 'plant the idea' in someone's head. This is a myth. If you are wrong, you're at least showing a friend you care. If you are right, you could save their life.

Sometimes stress or a traumatic event like bereavement can trigger suicidal thoughts in a vulnerable person. For this reason it's important to ask a friend who is going through a tough time how they are coping and if they need some support. Having someone to talk with can make all the difference.

Warnings signs may include but are not limited to:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Having difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Feeling tired most of the time.
  • Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or guilty.
  • Talking about suicide or death.
  • Self-destructive behaviour like drinking too much or abusing drugs.
  • Losing interest in favourite things or activities.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Mood swings.

Most suicidal young people don't really want to die but they do want their pain to end. In around 80% of cases people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.

Watch for these signs. They may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.

  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Current talk of suicide or making a plan
  • Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal
  • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye

These warning signs become more notable if there has been:

  • a recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
  • a recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents
  • news reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or local area

Other key risk factors include:

  • Readily accessible means such as prescription medication, alcohol or street drugs
  • Impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
  • Lack of connection to family and friends (no one to talk to)

What to do if you see the warning signs?

If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If he or she has expressed an immediate plan, or has access to medication or other potentially deadly means, do not leave him or her alone. Get help immediately.

These steps can be effective:

  • Watching
  • Showing
  • Asking
  • Helping
  1. The break-up of a romantic relationship
  2. For an adolescent the loss of such a relationship is traumatic in many cases. His or her world has come crashing down. Behind many a macho exterior or sour grapes attitude is a sensitive and hurting young person. Trite expressions like "Things will get better in time" or "There are other fish in the sea" show no sensitivity for the hurt the young person is feeling and deny that the pain is real.

  3. The death of a loved one
  4. The pain of separation by death can be so great that the young person might be driven to join that person in death. Furthermore, the grief process often does not include the young person in the family. Many adults do not consider the possibility that the grief that a young person is experiencing at the death of a close family member is as profound as their own.

  5. The death of a pet
  6. Consider the teenager whose only true listener is the dog. The dog is there to listen and to love and to never pass judgment. And if that dog should die?

  7. The loss of a job
  8. For many teenagers, "job" means maturity and independence. Take away the job? What happens to the independence?

  9. Losing face
  10. Consider the boy who publicly stated he was aiming to be a team captain and didn't make it. Consider the student who wanted to attend a prestigious college but got a rejection instead, and everyone knows it

  11. Divorce
  12. The loss of a parent through divorce is more traumatic than is commonly admitted. Many teenagers feel responsible for the break-up of the marriage. The imagined or actual fear of a possible divorce is also tremendously painful for the teenager.

  1. School Pressure
  2. The need to achieve high marks, time to accomplish several major assignments simultaneously, involvement in too many extracurricular activities, demands of school sports, college applications.

  3. Peer Pressure
  4. The need to find acceptance, group morals, conformity to clothing styles, drugs, alcohol, sex, and bullying to name just few.

  5. Parental Pressure
  6. Success, money, the right college, the right friends, good marks, conflict between the need to control and the need to be independent, marital problems between parents, "get a job", clothing, music, the parent who wants to be a "friend", lectures rather than examples.

  1. Physical Unattractiveness
  2. Consider the young man who thinks that physically he does not match his peers. Consider the young lady who thinks she's plain and homely. Consider the effect of skin blemishes at debs time.

  3. Never the first
  4. Consider the young man or the young lady who always feels like a second choice when it comes to dating or being chosen for anything.

  5. Sexuality
  6. Consider the pain and agony of the teenager who is caught between the two worlds of sexuality and who is terrified to speak to anyone about this for fear of ridicule. Consider the young person whose fear of being homosexual is based on a lack of fundamental sexual knowledge.

  7. Clothing
  8. Consider the teenager who, influenced by the media blitz and by teenage styles, judges importance or lack thereof by the type of clothes he or she is forced to wear.

  9. Physical Disability
  10. Consider the teenager who must not only cope with a physical problem, but also with the unkind remarks and glances of others.

  11. Academic Disability
  12. Consider the teenager whose older brother or sister was a "genius" and is constantly reminded of the difference between them.

  1. Isolation and loneliness
  2. Many teenagers feel so isolated and alone that they are convinced that there is no one to help them and that no one really cares. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. What matters is that this is how they perceive it, and so they suffer in silent isolation.

  3. Without a future and hopelessness
  4. Consider the teenager who instead of looking to the future with expectation is overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. All hope in the future has been lost.

VERBAL SIGNS (What your friend might be saying.)

    Direct statements:
  • "I want to die."
  • "I don't want to live anymore."

  • Indirect statements:
  • "I want to go to sleep and never wake up."
  • "You’ll be sorry when I'm gone."
  • "It'll be over soon."
  • "I want the pain to end."

BEHAVIORAL SIGNS (What your friend might be doing.)

  1. Depression, sadness
  2. Lack of energy
  3. Any changes in sleeping habits (increase or decrease in sleeping)
  4. Any change in appetite (increase or decrease in eating)
  5. Impatience and irritability
  6. Inability to concentrate (becoming bored and listless)
  7. Previous suicide attempt
  8. Giving away possessions
  9. Making final arrangements (will, insurance, funeral)
  10. Increased risk taking (driving a car recklessly)
  11. Frequent accidents (An accident can mask a suicide attempt.)
  12. Lessening of interest in friends and social life
  13. Becoming restless and hyperactive or dull and listless
  14. Drop in grades by good student, or sudden interest in grades by poor student
  15. Feelings of hopelessness
  16. Isolation from family
  17. Fascination with death
  18. Loss of interest in hobbies, sports, job

SITUATIONAL SIGNS (What might be happening to your friend)

  1. Losses
  2. Pressures
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Lack of hope or communication
  5. Trouble with the law
  6. Drug and alcohol abuse
Talking about suicide

Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."

Seeking out lethal means

Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death

Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future

Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred

Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").

Getting affairs in order

Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye

Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.

Withdrawing from others

Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behaviour

Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."

Sudden sense of calm

A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to die by suicide.

Additional warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide:
  1. Change in eating and sleeping habits
  2. Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  3. Violent or rebellious behaviour, running away
  4. Drug and alcohol use
  5. Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  6. Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  7. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomach-aches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  8. Not tolerating praise or rewards

If you would like to support our FreeText service you can make a text donation of €4.00 by texting YSPI to 50300

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Text costs €4. Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland will receive a minimum of €3.65. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278.

Important Notice

If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If they have expressed an immediate plan, or have access to prescription medication or other potentially deadly means, do not leave them alone. Get help immediately.


The Samaritans116 123
Pieta House1800 24 72 47
ISPCC Childline1800 66 66 66
ISPCC TeenLine1800 83 36 34

Contact Us

Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland (RCN20070670)
83A New Street
Co Kerry V93 FR59
1800 828 888

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