Suicide is a leading cause of death—and it's preventable. Use these resources to save lives.
Five action steps for helping someone in emotional pain
- Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way.
- Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
- Be there: Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.
- Help them stay connected: Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness.
- Follow-up: Staying in touch with someone after they have experienced a crisis or after they have been discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
Risk factors are stressful events, situations, or conditions that exist in a person’s life that may increase the likelihood of at tempting or dying by suicide. There is no predictive list of a particular set of risk factors that spells imminent danger of suicide. It is important to understand that risk factors do not cause suicide.
Risk factors most strongly associated with suicidal behavior include the following.
- Prior suicide attempt(s)
- Suicidal threats; homicidal ideation
- A suicide plan
- Fantasy concept/preoccupation with death
- Mental disorders, particularly depression, mood disorder, personality disorder,schizophrenia, anxiety or psychosis lasting over two weeks
- Alcohol or other substance use disorders
- Major physical illness
- Hopeless, helpless, very unhappy
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- Low self-esteem
- Learning Disabilities
- Changes and worsening in self-injuring behavior
- Access to lethal means (firearms, poisons, prescription medications, alcohol or other substances)
- Stressors related to sexual orientation
- History of interpersonal violence, conflict, trauma, or abuse
- Social isolation, alienation from family members, friends
- Moving/being new to a school
- Family dysfunction or changes (illnesses, parental/marital conflict, absentee parent)
- Stigma or barriers associated with help-seeking behavior
- Exposure to suicidal behavior of a family member or close friend
- Multiple losses (job, financial, relationship, social)
- “Loss of face” or disrespect from peers
- Recent disappointment/rejection
- Lack of social support
- Barriers to health care and mental health care
- Portrayal of suicide in the media (movies, news, or music)
- Perceived pressure to succeed by self or others
- Certain cultural/religious beliefs that accept suicide as a solution
- Loss of connection to spiritual/religious beliefs
- Cultural values and attitudes
Seek help as soon as possible if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following suicide warnings signs.
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities--seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped--like there's no way out
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
Emergency - 911
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
LGBTQ Crisis Line - 1-866-488-7386
Teen Line - 310-855-4673
HopeLine Text Service - Text HOPELINE to 741741
County Crisis Lines: Use this directory
Be a safe person
Join the "Safe Person" campaign! Let others know that you offer a non-judgmental listening ear and support. "Safe Person" campaign members commit to uphold seven promises.
Data, reports, and studies
Wisconsin Statistics (2005-2016) (EXCEL)
Resources for providers and professionals
- Prevent Suicide Wisconsin
- Mental Health America Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Program
- Wisconsin Youth Suicide Prevention Program
- American Association of Suicidology
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- JED Foundation
- National Organization of People of Color Against Suicide
- National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Suicide Awareness and Voices of Education
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Suicide Safe App for Mobile Devices
- Teen Line
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Zero Suicide in Health and Behavioral Health Care