In just one week, the unexpected suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain shook the world. Their deaths reignited a national conversation about both suicide and suicide prevention. It’s a difficult conversation to have, but a necessary one. And knowing the 11 warning signs of suicide is fundamental. What’s more, we need to know what to do when we see them.  

After Robin Williams’ tragic death in 2014, suicide rates increased in the US alone by 10 percent. People fear that a similar increase will follow the passing of both Spade and Bourdain.

And perhaps what is most unnerving about such sudden deaths is that friends and family are completely blindsided and shocked.

No one sees it coming. And while it’s impossible to know an individual’s pain and suffering, it can help to know potential warning signs, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified.

11 warning signs that someone may be contemplating or planning suicide:

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much 
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die 

What to do if you see 11 suicide warning signs 

According to the #BeThe1To movement, here’s the best way to act when you see suicide warning signs:

  • Ask how they’re feeling. Ask if they’re thinking about suicide or have plans to do so.
  • Don’t let them be by themselves and try to keep them safe.
  • Be available for them.
  • Touch bases with them every day and help them stay connected with others.
  • Always follow up.

If you or something you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

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