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National Suicide Prevention Week Recognizing the warning signs

Posted September 14, 2017 by Christina Rummell, Ph.D.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds. Surprisingly, the suicide rate is higher among the elderly (over 65) than any other age group.

Sept. 10-16 is National Suicide Prevention Week, which focuses on raising awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death on a global level. An estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide of a friend, family member or other loved one.

You can help by knowing the warning signs of suicide. A person in acute risk for suicidal behavior most often will: talk of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; look for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; or talk or write about death, dying or suicide.

Additional warning signs include:

  • The person saying that they have no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
  • Feelings of anxiety or agitation
  • Being unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped, like there's no way out of their problems
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or making arrangements for the care of dependents or pets


1. Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.

2. Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions, but others are either unaware of the significance of these warnings, do not know how to respond to them, or do not take them seriously.

3. Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.

4. Don’t hesitate to take action because you are afraid the person will be mad or upset. A loved one’s life may be at risk.


You can get help for yourself or a loved one by contacting a mental health professional, dialing 911, or proceeding to the nearest emergency room. You may also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- TALK (1-800-273-8255). The Lifeline staff can refer you to resources in your community. Lifeline has trained counselors available 24/7 at no cost. For more information visit

Christina Rummell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Summa Health System 

Visit the Summa Health Behavioral Health Institute today


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.