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Warning Signs of Suicide in Adults


Topic Overview

The following warning signs may be present in adults who have a high risk for suicide:

  • Depression or other mental health condition, such as severe anxiety, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), or schizophrenia
  • Depression followed by sudden cheerfulness and contentment, which may mean the person has made a decision to finalize a suicide plan
  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Preoccupation with death in conversations
  • Giving away personal possessions

Factors that may increase the risk of suicide include having:

  • A family member who has committed suicide.
  • A family history of depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
  • A history of physical or sexual abuse.
  • Diagnosis of a serious medical illness.
  • Failing relationships.
  • A divorce.
  • A recent life change, such as a death of a spouse or other member of the family, marriage, break-up of a marriage, the birth of a child, a job loss, a job promotion or demotion, or legal problems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Related Information

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Postpartum Depression

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Last RevisedNovember 27, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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