Suicide

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are the signs and symptoms for suicidal behavior?

Warning signs that an individual is imminently planning to kill themselves may include the person making a will, otherwise getting his or her affairs in order, suddenly visiting friends or family members (one last time), buying instruments of suicide like a gun, hose, rope, pills, or other forms of medications, a sudden and significant decline or improvement in mood, or writing a suicide note. Contrary to popular belief, many people who complete suicide do not tell their therapist or any other mental-health professional they plan to kill themselves in the months before they do so. If they communicate their plan to anyone, it is more likely to be someone with whom they are personally close, like a friend or family member.

Individuals who take their lives tend to suffer from severe anxiety or depression, symptoms of which may include moderate alcohol abuse, insomnia, severe agitation, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy (anhedonia), hopelessness, and persistent thoughts about the possibility of something bad happening. Since suicidal behaviors are often quite impulsive, removing guns, medications, knives, and other instruments people often use to kill themselves from the immediate environment can allow the individual time to think more clearly and perhaps choose a more rational way of coping with their pain. It can also allow the person's caregivers or loved ones time to intervene.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/31/2016

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