The Warning Signs of Suicide: Expert Advice on How You Can Help

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children 10-14 years old and the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-34. Every 28 seconds someone attempts suicide. Overall, suicide rates in the United States have increased and continue to rise.

Although suicide is a difficult topic to discuss, it is even more difficult losing someone to it. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Program Director Irma Gonzalez, LCSW answers questions about recognizing the warning signs of suicide.

What is Pacific Clinics’ Latino Youth Program and what services are offered?

Irma: Latinos have the highest suicide rate among any other ethnic group in the United States. The Latino Youth Program is located in Santa Fe Springs and we provide individual and family therapy, rehabilitative services, case management, medication supportive services, and support group services for parents and caretakers. Additionally, we have other programs on our campus to support parents, siblings and other family members, if needed. For more information on the Latino Youth Program, call 1-877-PC-CARES (722-2737).

What are some behavioral or key indicators to look for if someone might be contemplating suicide?

Irma: The signs differ from individual to individual; however, below are a few common indicators:

  • Withdrawing from friends or family
  • Expressing unusual anger
  • Changed behavior
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Increased substance abuse

What are some ways to intervene or prevent suicide?

Irma: If you suspect that someone is suicidal, the first step is to reach out and ask. Ask if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. This may be difficult, but by asking the question and listening to the response you are starting an open and honest dialogue and creating a safe environment for them to share their feelings.

Why is it important to have a conversation around suicide and suicide prevention?

Irma: It is important not to only look for invitations from someone who needs help, but to look for warning signs. Oftentimes warning signs appear during a conversation. Our staff is trained to ask and initiate these tough conversations. If you believe that someone needs help it is important to let them know that you care about them and encourage them to seek treatment from a qualified therapist or doctor. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741 to message a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line.

Written By: Tiffany Garcia, Communications Manager