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SUICIDE: Warning Signs

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

Suicide is now the leading cause of injury deaths in America (AJPH). The following WARNING SIGNS may suggest that someone is contemplating suicide. If you have concerns, speak immediately with a member of the person's family, with a healthcare provider, an educator, or member of the clergy. Always err on the side of caution:

• has previously attempted suicide • has a history of self-destructive behavior • is talking or writing about suicide • has a specific plan • has access to a gun or other lethal means • has harmed others • is suffering from depression or other mental illness • has experienced a prior tragedy (e.g., suicide of family member) • is involved with alcohol and/or other substance • has harmed animals • describes his situation as “hopeless” • has sleep and/or eating disturbances • is talking about “not being around...”, saying good-bye • is grappling with sexual/identity issues • gives away possessions

• will not "contract for safety." (i.e., promise to not harm oneself) • demonstrates a marked change in mood or behavior

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