Suicide Prevention Awareness

Suicide is a complex, but preventable public health issue with significant personal and societal consequences. Suicide constitutes a global disease burden and is currently the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. For youth and young adults between the ages of 10 to 24 years, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month this September, we aim to highlight warning signs, risk factors, disparities, and discuss ways to help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Warning Signs

Being aware of the warning signs may help you determine whether you or a loved one are at risk for suicide. Some warning signs may include:

  • Talking about or making social media posts about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Expressing hopelessness or not having a reason to live
  • Feeling trapped or in excruciating pain
  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Acting increasingly anxious or agitated
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Increasing substance use
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Making plans for suicide

Risk Factors

Although these factors cannot cause or predict a suicide attempt, these characteristics can increase the risk that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Some risk factors include:

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Mood disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Thwarted belongingness and sense of isolation
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences
  • Job or financial loss
  • Lack of access to healthcare
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Discrimination


In addition to recognizing risk factors and warning signs, it is important to note that certain groups are disproportionately affected by suicide. For example,

  • Native American and Alaska Native individuals have the highest suicide rate compared to other racial groups
  • Among high school students, sexual minorities have higher rates of suicide attempts compared to heterosexual students
  • Suicide rates are higher among veterans compared to non-veteran adults
  • Suicidal ideation is higher among adults with disabilities compared to adults without disabilities
  • Older adults aged 75 years and older have one of the highest suicide rates

Protective Factors

There are also many protective factors that can reduce the risk of suicide. For example, protective factors include:

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills
  • Support from friends and family
  • Feelings of connectedness
  • Strong sense of cultural identity
  • Access to healthcare
  • Reduced access to lethal means

What Can You Do to Help?

Start the conversation if you are worried about a loved one. You may ask, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Are you having thoughts of killing yourself?” A misconception about suicide is that if you ask someone if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, then you are increasing the likelihood of a suicide attempt. This is not true. Asking the question and starting a conversation creates an opportunity for the person to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, help connect them to resources. If there is an immediate crisis, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

Free and confidential crisis help is available 24/7 by phone:

Additional Resources


Suicide is a leading cause of death and certain groups are disproportionately affected by suicide. Suicide is preventable; it is important to know the warning signs and risk factors. If you are experiencing mental health-related distress or you are concerned about a loved one, there are many crisis support resources available. In addition to crisis help, you may also wish to work with a mental health provider for more regular support. If you are interested in services, please call 972-519-1692 or email


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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Be there to help prevent suicide. Retrieved from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Disparities in suicide. Retrieved from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from:

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