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Warning Signs, Risk Factors & What to Do

What You Should Know

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Iowa's youth aged 15-19 years old. Through education, awareness and action, suicide can be prevented.
  • You do not have to be a trained professional to recognize the signs of suicide or to know what to do when you think a youth in your life is suicidal.

Recognize Suicide Warning Signs and Risk Factors

  • Making a suicide plan-the more specific the plan, the higher the risk
  • Statements revealing thoughts of death, such as "I won't be around much longer," "It's hopeless," or "I won't be missed when I'm gone."
  • Available means (firearms, medications)
  • Depression (crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness, isolation, helplessness, anger at oneself or the world)
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Recent loss of a friend or family member through death or suicide
  • Other losses, such as the loss of a parent through divorce, a job loss or an ended relationship
  • The anniversary date of a loss is approaching
  • Giving or throwing away favorite possessions
  • No planning for the future
  • Use or increased use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Sudden change in behavior-acts differently or personality seems to change for no obvious reason; becomes aggressive, destructive or defiant
  • Chronic headaches or stomachaches, fatigue
  • New involvement with high-risk activities
  • Sudden, dramatic decline or improvement in schoolwork
  • Chronic physical or mental illness or disability 

It's A Fact

Reports of suicide in teens have increased almost 200% since the 1960s, compared to a 17% increase in the general population.

Did You Know?

  • 80% of people who commit suicide have talked about it or given definite warning signs.
  • 90% of teenagers who commit suicide suffer from a psychiatric disorder, such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in high school and college students.
  • Youth suicide rates are higher in rural areas than in urban.
  • Male youths are four times more likely than females to complete suicides.
  • Female youths are twice as likely as males to attempt suicide.
  • The presence of a loaded gun in the home is the single most powerful risk factor. In fact, more than 60% of all suicides are committed with a firearm-a method that has steadily increased over time.
  • A recent survey of high school students found that more than 20% had seriously considered suicide within a one-year period. Another 23% had made plans to attempt suicide or actually made a suicide attempt during the year preceding the survey.
  • Ninth graders are twice as likely to attempt suicide as 12th graders.
  • Compared to non-abused youth, youth who have been physically or sexually abused are more than twice as likely to report suicidal thoughts and plans, more than three times as likely to report a suicide plan, and more than 10 times as likely to report an injurious suicide attempt.
  • Reasons given for considering or attempting suicide include: feeling overwhelmed, inadequate or depressed; using alcohol and drugs to deal with emotions; sexual abuse; and experiencing serious family fights.

For More Information

Foundation 2 Crisis Center
1540 Second Ave. SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403  
Certified by the American Association of Suicidology 
Local: 319-362-2174
Statewide (Iowa): 1-800-332-4224
National: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Foundation 2 is a not-for-profit social service agency that offers crisis prevention and intervention services to people of all ages. Our mission is to be a trusted, compassionate resource for people in crisis by offering counseling, safety, and support during difficult times. This publication was supported by a Witwer Trust Fund Grant from the Linn County Board of Supervisors. Foundation 2 is a United Way member agency.