Power in knowledge

Understanding and Preventing Suicide

Suicide is complex and significant. More than half of Americans have been affected by suicide in some way.

In the United States, the long pandemic and social and political unrest are causing many people to experience emotional fatigue and mental health challenges to a greater degree. Those who suffer from mental illness are understandably having an especially difficult time and the number of individuals reporting seriously considering suicide has increased 11%. 


Americans affected by suicide in some way


Increase in young adults considering suicide


suicides w/ diagnoses of mental health conditions


Signs and symptoms that might indicate a concern about suicide vary and may not always be easy to recognize. Here are some of the possible warning signs. Having these signs and symptoms does not mean your loved one will attempt suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or having no reason to live 
  • Efforts to obtain a gun, lethal doses of medications 
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or helpless 
  • Talking about being a burden to others 
  • Increased drug or alcohol use 
  • Withdrawing from family or friends 
  • Sleeping too much or sleeping too little 
  • Giving away prized possessions or things that are important to them 
  • Acting more anxious or agitated than usual and/or behaving recklessly 

What to Do in an Emergency


There is no single cause for suicide. However, there are health, environmental, and historical risk factors that may increase the likelihood of an attempt. Having these risk factors does not mean a loved one will commit suicide. Knowing these risk factors could save a life.  

Health Risk Factors 

Include mental health conditions such as depression, substance abuse challenges, Bipolar Disorder, serious physical health, or Traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

Environmental Risk Factors 

Include having access to firearms and drugs, including prescribed or over the counter medications. Events that can be stressful such as grief and loss, prolonged relationship strife or stress, bullying, divorce, rejection, unemployment, or financial crisis. 

Historical Risk Factors 

Include previous suicide attempts, abuse, trauma, neglect. 

One of the main historical risk factors is a change in behavior or a new behavior if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, a loss, or a change. 


It is important to keep communication lines open. If you need help, seek it. If you are concerned for a loved one, speak to them. Thinking about suicide is a symptom of depression. It is helpful to recognize this as a direct sign to get help.

If someone has reached a point of intention or plan, intervention is appropriate for prevention. People who make it past times of considering suicide often report gratitude for those in their life who spoke openly and directly about it with them. This can be the bridge to getting help.   

Resources for Support

  • Local Helplines and Online Resources

    View a list of local helplines and online resources for your own familiarization, or print out the PDF and post it in your office space to support a culture of well-being.

    View Local Resource Information

Additional Resources

FEAP is Here to Help


Same day appointments at FEAP are available. Please call FEAP: 

  • FEAP main office 434.243.2643
  • FEAP consultant on call - UVA page office: 434.924.0000


If you have questions or would you like to request a non-emergency appointment, please contact FEAP