Identifying warning signs and getting help
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes. In 2021, suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 20-34.1 It’s important to understand how to identify someone at risk so you can connect them with the care and support they need.
Know the warning signs of suicide
There’s a useful phrase that can help you remember the warning signs of suicidal behavior: “IS PATH WARM?” Each letter corresponds to a symptom that people considering suicide often exhibit:
- I — Ideation. Talking about hurting or killing oneself
- S — Substance abuse. Excessive alcohol or drug use
- P — Purposelessness. Seeing no reason to live
- A — Anxiety. Agitated, anxious, unable to sleep, or sleeping all day
- T — Trapped. Feeling like there’s no way out and resisting help
- H — Hopelessness. Acting as if there’s no hope of change, and the future is bleak
- W — Withdrawal. Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- A — Anger. Being consumed with uncontrolled anger or thoughts of revenge
- R — Recklessness. Engaging in risky activities or acting without thinking
- M — Mood changes. Dramatic mood swings
How to help someone who may be suicidal
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress. Simply dial "988" for help 24/7. Callers can remain anonymous if they choose.
Workpartners’ Employee Assistance Program offers care managers who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer questions and help you find the resources you or someone at risk needs. To learn more about the full range of programs and services Workpartners’ EAP can provide for your organization, visit the rest of our resource pages.
This information is not a substitute for professional care or your organization’s policies. If you have or suspect you have an issue related to the material presented here, consult an appropriate professional.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System, Facts about Suicide, https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/index.html