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FACT FILE: Youth suicide warning signs

September 10, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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A panel of experts recently crafted a consensus on the warning signs for youth suicide, released in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10. The main goal was to determine what changes immediately preceded suicide attempts or deaths that are supported by research and rooted in clinical practice.

Youth suicide warning signs

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
    • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability

Experts reviewed and analyzed all available literature and conducted a survey of youth suicide attempt survivors, as well as those who lost a youth to suicide.  The panel consisted of researchers with extensive experience working with suicidal youth, public health officials, clinicians with decades of individual experience helping suicidal youth, school teachers, and various other stakeholders including individuals representing national organizations focused on suicide prevention. 

Source: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education