Watch for Signs

What are signs that my child could be suicidal?
Keep in mind that some teens will give more warning signs than others, and that the signs can be subtle. However, most teens who complete or attempt suicide give some type of warning to loved ones ahead of time. It’s important to know the warning signs and to watch carefully so that kids who might be suicidal can get the help they need.

A specific event, stress, or crisis—like sexual abuse, bullying, break-up or a death in the family—can trigger suicidal behavior in someone who is already feeling depressed and showing the warning signs listed as follows:

  • Complaints of being a bad person or feeling “rotten inside”
  • Verbal hints like “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again”
  • Putting affairs in order (e.g., giving away favorite material possessions, cleaning room, throwing away important belongings)
  • Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression
  • Signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts)
  • Little interest in the future
  • Rash or hostile actions; expressions of rage

Source: “A Family Guide to Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy and Drug Free” SAMHSA. For more information go to