Suicide is a crisis that isn’t limited by age, location, economic standing, or financial success. The crushing truth is that intrusive suicidal thoughts can be lurking in anyone’s mind, and oftentimes it’s difficult to identify. Sadly millions of people each year die by suicide, and that number is rising in children and young adults.

The good new is that in recent years, the importance of mental health awareness and suicide prevention has gained significant momentum due to the growing recognition of its impact on individuals, families, and communities. There are many resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts and for families and friends searching for ways to support the ones they love. The best place to begin is to understand risk factors and warning signs to intervene as early as possible.

Risk Factors and High-Risk Groups

Suicide can be the ultimate reminder of how individuals may suffer, often quietly, and feel trapped in a cycle of despair until there seems to be no other option. While the exact causes vary greatly depending on personal circumstances, common risk factors include mental health disorders (such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder), substance abuse, traumatic life events, and social isolation. 

Certain populations are more vulnerable to suicide due to specific challenges they face. Veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with a history of self-harm have all been identified as higher-risk groups for suicide. Understanding the unique stressors and risk factors these groups encounter is crucial in providing effective support.

Warning Signs and Early Intervention

Identifying high-risk groups and assessing common suicide risk factors can help shine light on potential concerns, but it’s important to remember that anyone can be suffering in silence and exhibit warning signs that they may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. 

Traumatic or high-stress circumstances and events in someone’s life can cause or increase suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation, including:

  • Loss of a loved one to death, divorce, deployment, deportation, or incarceration 
  • Bullying, either in person or online
  • Discrimination, rejection, or hostility due to gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Racism, discrimination, and related inequities and stressors 
  • Family history of suicide or mental health difficulties
  • Stigma causing the belief that it’s wrong or shameful to talk or seek help
  • Easy access to firearms or other life-threatening tools and substances
  • Witnessing or suffering violence or domestic abuse 
  • Financial instability that causes worry and insecurity
  • Suicide in their school or friend group

Withdrawal from social activities, sudden mood changes, giving away possessions, or expressing feelings of hopelessness can all be indicators of someone in distress. Those closest to someone struggling may sense even slight changes in their personality, behavior, or demeanor.

Helping parents, families, teachers, and even peers to recognize warning signs of suicide can enable swift action. Creating a supportive network around this person will help to show support and love as well as being available in a potentially life-saving situation.

Mental Health Care And Crisis Support

Access to mental health care is a critical component of suicide prevention. Many individuals, particularly in underserved communities, lack access to quality mental health care. Some who could most benefit from help may not receive it due to financial constraints, lack of resources, or simply because they don’t know where to turn for help. Further, teens may be particularly worried about potential repercussions from reaching out for help. 

However, crisis helplines, such as suicide prevention hotlines, are always there to offer immediate and anonymous support. These helplines provide a lifeline for individuals who may be hesitant to reach out to friends or family. Volunteers and professionals trained in crisis intervention can offer comfort, understanding, and guidance to help individuals navigate their emotions and thoughts.

With technology today, there are even chat and text crisis hotlines, and they are a great resource for children and young adults who may feel more comfortable expressing themselves through writing than talking. While technology should never replace professional mental health, in times of immediate crisis, texting could save a life.

Break Mental Health Stigmas

One of the major hurdles in addressing mental health concerns is the stigma that continues to surround these issues. Societal norms often contribute to shame, fear, and misunderstanding, preventing individuals from seeking help. However, it’s essential to recognize that mental health conditions are just like any other medical condition and should be treated with empathy and understanding.

By fostering open conversations about mental health, we can dispel misconceptions and promote a more inclusive and compassionate society. When public figures, celebrities, and influencers share their own struggles with mental health, it sends a powerful message that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but an act of courage.

8 Ways to Support Suicide Prevention

The root causes for mental health issues that can lead to suicidal thoughts are complex, and though it may be very difficult to identify and even harder to know how to talk about, there are some ways that are accessible for everyone looking to help someone they love and are worried about.

1. Promote Mental Health Awareness & Understanding

Raising awareness about mental health and its importance can help reduce stigma and encourage open conversations. Talking to your children, friends, and families and modeling understanding and empathy can help create a safe environment where they feel more comfortable opening up about struggles they may be hiding.

2. Encourage Help-Seeking Behavior

Creating an environment where seeking help for mental health issues is encouraged and normalized can make a significant difference. This involves reducing the stigma associated with mental health treatment and showcasing stories of individuals who have successfully reached out for support.

3. Assess Suicide Risk Factors

High risk groups and risk factors don’t guarantee suicidal thoughts, but they can make it much more likely, especial for someone predisposed to mental illness or someone who has experienced a traumatic life event. If you’re worried about someone, take note if they have one or multiple risk factors, and consider early intervention.

4. Watch for Early Warning Signs

Changes in mood and behavior may be early warning signs of depression and anxiety, which along with other risk factors, could make a person more prone to suicide ideation. These may be hard to see in those who put on a brave face or in children who may be learning to control their emotions in general, so be attentive and keep a watchful eye.

5. Share Crisis Hotlines

24/7 crisis hotlines staffed by trained professionals can provide immediate support to individuals in distress. These helplines offer a safe space for people to talk about their feelings and receive guidance during critical moments. These are available by phone, text, and online chat, and we’d shared some options below.

6. Promote Resilience and Coping Skills

Building emotional resilience and healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals navigate challenges more effectively. Teaching skills such as mindfulness, problem-solving, and emotion regulation can empower individuals to better manage and be aware of their emotions.

7. Reduce Access to Lethal Means

Restricting access to lethal means, such as firearms and certain medications, can prevent impulsive acts of self-harm. This involves responsible storage of firearms and limiting access to dangerous substances.

8. Foster Social Connections

Building and maintaining strong social connections can act as a protective factor against suicide. Encouraging activities that promote social engagement, community involvement, and peer support can help individuals feel connected and valued.

Remember, suicide prevention is an ongoing effort that requires collaboration among individuals, families, schools, and communities. Each person can play a role in preventing suicide by showing empathy, offering support, and being vigilant about the well-being of those around them.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines

If you or someone you love needs help or wants to talk, please know that there are kind professionals there who want to listen.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Call or chat

24 Hours

English, Spanish


The Trevor Project

Call, chat, or text

24 Hours