How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Behavior

Suicide continues to be a serious public health issue in America and affects people of all ages and walks of life. According to the CDC, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34 years old and remains the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States. Although existing mental illness can increase the risk of suicide, not everyone who attempts suicide has a mental illness – that’s why it’s so important to recognize other risk factors and symptoms to help prevent suicide.

Risk Factors for Men and Women

We spoke with AdvantageCare Physicians’ psychiatrist, Dr. Seth Resnick, who explained to us that suicide rate among males is higher than amongst females and that older Caucasian males are still one of the most at-risk groups in the country right now. However, it’s important to be aware that females are more likely than males to have suicidal thoughts as they experience depression at roughly two times the rate of men. Risk factors for suicide include:

  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Unemployment
  • Military-related trauma
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Mood disorders


You can help prevent suicide by recognizing the following behavioral changes, which may mean an individual is at risk for suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live
  • Behaving recklessly; acting anxious or agitated
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, or if you’re thinking about suicide, confidential help is available 24/7. Seeking help is a sign of strength and resilience. HIPAA laws ensure your services will never be a part of your employment record. Your privacy is completely protected.

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
    • The Lifeline offers 24-hour support if you are in a crisis.
  • EmblemHealth members, call EmblemHealth Beacon Line: 888-447-2526
    • Get confidential support if you are overwhelmed or having thoughts about self-harm.
    • Montefiore members only: call University Behavioral Associates Referral Line at 1-800-401-4822.
  • Call the NYPD cop-to-cop mental health hotline (separate from the NYPD) POPPA: 888-COPSCOP

NYC Health: