Renfrewshire Council

Suicide Prevention Week - six warning signs to spot

Six signs that someone may be at risk of suicide

If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal, ask them - it could save their life.

Most people thinking about suicide will try to let someone know. If you can spot the signs, you can save a life. Keep an eye out and learn what you can do to help.

Remember, everyone is different, so in some cases few or none of the signs will be evident.

1: They talk about wanting to die.

They don't see the point of living, or a way out of their situation. They may say they feel trapped.

2: They don't seem to be coping.

They have been through stressful life events or have experienced significant losses.

3: They give away prized possessions.

4: They start putting things in order.

Like, arranging wills, pet care or childcare.

5: They show marked changes in behaviour, appearance or mood.

They may seem distracted, sad, distant or lacking in concentration. Watch out for sudden uplift in mood or calmness as this sometimes can be because the person feels they have found a solution to their problems, no matter how drastic this may be.

6: They have made a previous suicide attempt.


You can help by being ALERT.

A - Ask if they are thinking about suicide.

You may feel frightened to bring up the subject of suicide in case you think it will put the idea in their head. This is not true. Don't hesitate to raise the subject. Be direct in a caring and supportive way.

L - Listen and show you care.

Let the person talk about their feelings and listen carefully to what they have to say. Try not to judge them. Rather than dismissing their thoughts as 'silly', try to understand why they are feeling this way. Let them know you care.

E - Encourage them to get help.

Now is the time to move forward with hope and get help to keep the person safe. You may feel out of your depth to help further, but there are people out there who can. Encourage the person to make an appointment with their GP, or to call Breathing Space or Samaritans. Breathing Space can let you know about other sources of local and national help.

R - Right now, not later.

If the person has an immediate suicide plan and means to carry it out, do not leave them alone. Get help immediately by phoning a doctor, 999, a local crisis support service (look in a phone book, Yellow Pages or Thomson Directory) or one of the helplines below.

T - Tell someone.

Never promise secrecy. Dealing with suicide can be difficult and you can't do it alone. Find someone to talk to about your own feelings.


If you or someone you know is suicidal, you find support under 'related articles' and 'related links'.

Published: Wednesday 12 September 2018.