How do I know if my child is at risk for suicide?

Pre-suicidal behaviors can vary and suicidal thinking or intent is not always readily evident.  Substance abuse may be related to attempts to cope with suicidal thoughts. Do not hesitate to ask your child in a straightforward and caring manner:

  1. “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?”
  2. “What were/are your plans and thoughts exactly?”
  3. “What did you do in response to these thoughts?”
  4. “Do you have any items you were planning to use to hurt yourself?”

 Look for the following (from the Samaritans):

Verbal Signs

  1. "I want to kill myself."
  2. "I don't want to be here anymore."
  3. "No one understands me."
  4. "I can't take it anymore."
  5. "Things will never get better."
  6. "I'm tired of being a burden to my friends and family."
  7. "No one would miss me if I were gone."

Physical Changes

  1. Significant change in appetite.
  2. Suddenly not caring about appearances or cleanliness.
  3. Unexplained cuts, scrapes or bruises.
  4. Appearing tired all the time, sleeping too much or too little.

Acting Differently

  1. Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period.
  2. Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  3. Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol.
  4. Loss of concentration.
  5. Withdrawing from friends and family.
  6. Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed.
  7. Not planning for the future.
  8. Hurting oneself on purpose.
  9. Thinking and talking about death a lot.
  10. Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure.


  1. Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job.
  2. Having money problems.
  3. Having questions or worries about being gay, bisexual or transgender.
  4. Previous suicide attempts.
  5. Recent death of a loved one.
  6. Problems in an important relationship.
  7. Problems at work or school, decline in academic function, college rejection.
  8. Social isolation or significant change in peer group.

Whether or not your child has acknowledged suicidal intent, if you are concerned about the possibility, call a Needham-link crisis line right away.  Someone will help you determine what to do.

Tell your child: “ I am worried about your immediate safety and I am getting help right now.”






Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Support and Help Around You