C Danger Signals

(1 ) Suicidogenic situation. A suicidogenic situation is when the situation itself is conducive to suicidal thoughts and feelings.

EXAMPLES: Cadet Smith ranks at the top of his class at West Point and is the star of the football team. One weekend, he is in a serious car accident and both of his legs are amputated.

After being with his company for 20 years, top man in the firm and totally dedicated to his work, Mr. Executive is suddenly fired without an explanation.

(2) Depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms include but not limited to:




Inability to concentrate.


Loss of appetite.


Apathy/social withdrawal.


Poor personal hygiene/sloppiness




Feelings of worthlessness.

(3) Verbal warnings. The mythology surrounding suicide leads people to believe that those who talk about killing themselves do not actually do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some examples of verbal warnings are:

(d) "If such and such happens (or doesn't happen), I'll kill myself."

(e) "You're going to regret how you've treated me."

(f) "Here, take this (valued possession), I won't be needing it anymore."

(4) Behavioral warnings. A person may not give verbal warnings as to incipient suicidal feelings, but may demonstrate his intent behaviorally. Some of these behavioral warnings are:

(a) Organizing personal/business matters as one would if going away for an extended period of time.

(b) Planning one's own funeral shortly after the death of a loved one.

(c) Suddenly resigning from organizations such as clubs or church groups.

(d) Crying for no apparent reasons.

(e) Unexplained deviation from ingrained behavior patterns. A non-drinker begins drinking to excess. A person who hates guns suddenly buys one.

(f) Composing a suicide note.

NOTE: Suicide notes are sometimes found days before the suicide occurs.

(g) Sudden, unexplained recovery from a severe depression.

NOTE: Some persons who have decided to kill themselves may appear quite happy.

Actually, they are not happy, but are relieved of their burden of stress and pain by the decision to kill themselves. You cannot tell the difference just by looking at them.

(h) Attempted suicide is the strongest behavioral warning.

NOTE: A person who has attempted suicide does not automatically cease to be suicidal. Approximately half of the people who kill themselves have previously attempted to do so.

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