The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill provides a list of signs of
depression and suicide risks something like this:
1. Changes in mood or personality, e.g., sad, irritable, apathetic,
2. Behavioral changes, e.g., disinterest in school, cant
concentrate, changed habits.
3. Different sleep habits e.g., cant sleep or over-sleeps, awakes
4. Different eating habits e.g., lack of appetite or over-eating.
5. Less social interests, e.g., withdrawal from friends or usual
6. More worries, e.g., health concerns, the future.
7. New fears of going crazy, hurting someone, losing self-control.
8. Dwelling on self-criticism, guilt or shame, self-disdain, or disgust
9. Increased hopelessness, e.g., things will never change, I cant
10. Frequent and highly emotional dreams or nightmares.
Experts, in general, say the 5 or 6 better predictors of actual
suicide include (a) a history of non-lethal self-injuries (but 90% never
kill themselves), (b) being a male (6 males to 1 female die as young
adults and 20 men to 1 woman among the elderly), (c) being older,
(d) being white, (e) having some psychiatric diagnosis (but less than a
third of those who commit suicide have had contact with psychiatric
services), and (f) having a recent history of a major loss or
disappointment. Maybe as many as 85% of the people who died by
suicide would have been considered depressed if they had seen a
professional, but a lot of depressed people are not suicidal. The lack of
treatment is still a major societal problem. So much more research is
needed, e.g., there are even disagreements about crucial questions,
such as whether taking anti-depressants lowers the rate of suicide by
adolescents (some data suggests it increases the risksee findings
A caution: When reading about the many and varied predictors or
warning signs of suicide, please do not assume that having a couple
of warning signs means that suicide is imminent. It may happen, of
course. But I hope it is clear that many of the signs can be common
when one is emotionally upset in any way and not suicidal.