Suicide Risk Warning Signs

Signs that someone is at risk for thinking about suicide can come in the form of verbal clues, behavioral clues, and situational clues.


Verbal clues may include:

  • Someone talking about killing themselves
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Experiencing unbearable pain

Behaviors to look out for include:

  • Looking for ways to kills themselves
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Acting reckless
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unexplainable aggression
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol

The mood of an individual considering suicide may include:

  • Depressed
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Humiliation
  • loss of interest

Situational clues and risk factors include:

  • Stressful life events such as death of a close friend/family member, relationship ending, rejection from an academic program, job loss
  • Prolonged stress factors including harassment, bullying, discrimination, relationship problems, and financial concerns
  • Access to lethal means such as firearms and drugs

If someone you know exhibits the warning signs of suicide:

  • Do not leave them alone
  • If you fear that they are at imminent risk of hurting themselves or someone else, call UKPD (#UKPD or #8573) or 911
  • If you believe they are not at imminent risk, you can call the Community of Concern at 859-257-3755
  • If a student is not at imminent risk, you can consult with or refer the student to the University of Kentucky Counseling Center at 859-257-8701
  • Refer the individual to the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Preventing suicide at the University of Kentucky can begin with YOU! The University of Kentucky Counseling Center can train you in Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR). When you learn QPR, you learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to offer hope, and learn about University of Kentucky and community referrals. If you are interested in scheduling a QPR program for your class, department, or organization, please contact the University of Kentucky Counseling Center at 859-257-8701.