While there isn't a single cause of suicide, there are risk factors and warning signs that may increase likelihood of an attempt. Knowing what they are and how to help can save lives.

Help is available 24/7. Reach out now. Here are places to call, text, or go:

Depression and thoughts of suicide can impact a person's life in different ways. Not everyone experiences depression and suicidal tendencies the same way. Some people may have behavioral changes while others experience physical changes. These are some signs that may indicate someone is depressed or considering suicide:

  • Excessive or ongoing sadness 
  • Anxiety
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or feeling trapped
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping habits
  • Isolating oneself from friends and/or family
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Unusual mood changes or increased anger/aggressiveness
  • Engaging in self-harm or reckless behavior

Depression alone or in combination with substance abuse, aggressive behavior, and/or anxiety is found in over half the people who die by suicide. If depression is present, substance abuse, anxiety, impulsivity, and rage may significantly increase risk. Depression and substance abuse can be a particularly dangerous combination. Suicide may also be triggered by stressful events such as failing an exam, losing one's job, interpersonal loss, crises in significant relationships, and changes in body chemistry. These are some signs of acute risk:

  • Talking openly about committing suicide
  • Talking about "wanting out" or "ending it all"
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, suicide when this is out of the ordinary
  • Taking unnecessary or life-threatening risks
  • Seeking out a firearm, pills, or other means of suicide

If you notice any of the above warning signs in a friend or loved one, you have reason to be concerned. There are ways that you can be helpful to someone who is thinking of taking their life.

What you can do in a non-emergency situation:
  • Visit Seize the Awkward for great tips on how to talk to someone you're concerned about.
  • Don't feel like you need to handle things on your own.  You can consult with someone at CAPS anytime. When we are closed, crisis counselors are available by phone.
  • Talk to the person in a private setting. Be honest and express your concerns in a caring way. For example, you can begin by saying something like "you seem really down lately and I want to make sure you're okay." Allow the person to talk as much as they need to and do not minimize their feelings.
  • Talk openly about thoughts of suicide. For example, "Are you feeling so bad that you've thought about suicide?"
  • Take your friend seriously - most people who die from suicide give warning of their intent.
  • Don't ignore your own limitations. Help as much as you reasonably can and don't hesitate to seek professional assistance at any point.
  • You may also need support as the helper. Be sure to take care of yourself as well; you can seek support from friends, family, or a counselor.
  • Removing access to suicide means even for a short time can help save a life. If you are concerned about someone who has access to a firearm andor pills, click here for information on safety measures that can be taken.
  • If you are in doubt about what to do, call or come to CAPS, or consult with your local mental health agency if you are outside the area. If there is immediate risk, follow the directions below right away:

If someone is at imminent risk, call 911 or take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room. Ensure that the person is not left alone. 

Consider options for restricting the person's access to lethal means such as firearms or pills. If there is a firearm present, police can remove it when they arrive. The Oregon State Police will place it in safe keeping (not with crime evidence). If the person does not want to relinquish their firearm, a gun lock can be obtained as described above.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, you can use the steps listed above for guidance. Allow the person to express their feelings. Listen. Offer kindness and words of encouragement. 

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