Know The Signs Bakersfield College

BC Safety Campaign

Pain isn’t always obvious, but most suicidal people show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. The signs may appear in conversations, through their actions, or in social media posts. If you observe one or more of these warning signs, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change, step in or speak up.

Know The Signs

Increased alcohol or drug use

"We used to get together for a beer once a week, then I found out he'd been driving home drunk every night, and I realized it wasn't just the alcohol that was the problem. He was trying to hurt himself."

They increase use of alcohol or drugs.

Talking about wanting to die or suicide

"My friend used to say things like 'I just can't take it anymore, I just want to end it all."

Their statements might be subtle or vague.

"I'm going to kill myself."

They may be direct and literally say they are going to kill themselves.

Thoughts may be reflected in something written or drawn.

Uncontrolled anger

"My husband used to be so calm, but he began to get so angry all the time. He never used to have a temper."

They express or act in ways that reflect hostility, bitterness, or resentment or rage. They talk about seeking revenge.

Reckless driving or suicidal behavior?

Reckless behavior

"People always called him a daredevil doing such dangerous things all the time. He always drove too fast, then began drinking and driving. When I found out he crashed his car, I wasn't sure it was just an accident."

They act in ways that could be dangerous or detrimental and they do not seem to care about the consequences.

"He was making outrageous purchases; expensive tools, a motorcycle that we couldn't afford."

They spend money recklessly.

Changes in sleep

They sleep more or can't sleep and are restless.

Feeling hopeless, desperate, trapped

"What does it matter? Nothing is ever going to change. It's never going to get better."

They don't see their situation or life changing for the better and don't see a way out. They make statements that hint that life seems pointless.

No sense of purpose

"I don't want my family or friends to have to worry about me anymore."

They feel like a burden to others.

"What I do doesn't matter. I'm a lost cause."

They feel worthless.

Putting affairs in order

They rush to complete or revise a will.

Giving away possessions:

"He kept showing me things around his apartment when I came over, like where he kept his keys, money, important papers, and even his will. But he was only 28 years old. When I questioned him, he said 'I'm telling you just in case I'm not here anymore."

They give away prized or favorite possessions.

Anxiety or agitation

"My girlfriend used to be so happy-go-lucky but now she gets anxious over even small things. She always seems to be near panic."

They appear nervous, shaken or worried.

Sudden mood changes

They are uncharacteristically sad or depressed or are unusually happy or content after a period of significant depression.


"For ten seasons, my coworker and I played on a baseball team together every Sunday. At first he started coming late, then skipped a game or two. When he did show up for a game, he wasn't very energetic or talkative. Then he stopped showing up altogether. When we saw each other at work, he would just nod and walk by."

They stop talking to and doing things with others or stop doing activities they once enjoyed. They feel isolated.

Talking about being a burden to others

"I think they’d be better off without me."

Talking about being a burden to others. Views that one’s existence burdens family, friends and/or society.

If any of these signs are present, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

  1. Talking about death or suicide
  2. Seeking methods for self harm, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Listening can save a life

Find the words

"Are you thinking of ending your life?"

Few phrases are as difficult to say to a loved one. But when it comes to suicide prevention, none are more important. Here are some ways to get the conversation started.

Start the conversation

Before starting a conversation with someone you are concerned about, be prepared. Have a list of crisis resources on hand. Practice what you will say. Plan the conversation for a time when you won’t be in a hurry and can spend time with the person.

"I've noticed that you've mentioned feeling hopeless a lot lately…"

Mention the signs that prompted you to ask about suicide. This makes it clear that you are not asking "out of the blue," and makes it more difficult for the person to deny that something is bothering them.

"Sometimes when people feel like that, they are thinking about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?"

Ask directly about suicide. Talking about suicide does NOT put the idea in someone's head and usually they are relieved. Asking directly and using the word "suicide" establishes that you and the person at risk are talking about the same thing and lets the person know that you are willing to talk about suicide.

"Are you thinking about ending your life?"

You may phrase the question in a different way. If they answer "yes" to your direct question about suicide stay calm, and don't leave the person alone until further help is obtained. Call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Listen, express concern, reassure

"I can imagine how tough this must be for you. I understand when you say that you aren't sure if you want to live or die. But have you always wanted to die? Well, maybe there's a chance you won't feel this way forever. I can help"

Listen to the reasons the person has for both living and dying. Validate that they are considering both options and underscore that living is an option for them.

"I'm deeply concerned about you and I want you to know that help is available to get you through this."

Let the person know you care. Letting them know that you take their situation seriously, and you are genuinely concerned about them, will go a long way in your effort to support them.

Create a safety plan

"Do you have any weapons or prescription medications in the house?"

Ask the person if they have access to any lethal means (weapons, medications, etc) and help remove them from the vicinity. (Another friend, family member or law enforcement agent may be needed to assist with this.)

Do not put yourself in danger; if you are concerned about your own safety, call 911.

"Is there someone you can call if you think you may act on your thoughts of suicide?"

Create a safety plan together. Ask the person what will help keep them safe until they meet with a professional.

"Will you promise me that you will not drink or at least have someone monitor your drinking until we can get you help?"

Ask the person if they will refrain from using alcohol and other drugs or agree to have someone monitor their use.

"Please promise me that you will not harm yourself or act on any thoughts of suicide until you meet with a professional."

Get a verbal commitment that the person will not act upon thoughts of suicide until they have met with a professional.

Help is just a phone call or conversation away

Get help

"I understand if it feels awkward to go see a counselor. But there is a phone number we can call to talk to somebody. Maybe they can help?"

Provide the person with the resources you have come prepared with. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.

If you feel the situation is critical, take the person to a nearby Emergency Room or walk-in psychiatric crisis clinic or call 9-1-1.

BC Safety Campaign

Reach out

You are not alone in helping someone in crisis. There are many resources available to assess, treat and intervene. Crisis lines, counselors, intervention programs and more are available to you, as well as to the person experiencing the emotional crisis.

California Statewide & National Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)

This free, 24-hour hotline is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. You can also call or chat with the Lifeline if you are concerned about someone else.

Each Mind Matters

Join California’s mental health movement. By adding your voice, you can advance mental health awareness and end stigma.

Crisis Text Line

Text “EMM” to 741741 to text confidentially with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7.

Trevor Project

Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. 1-866-488-7386

Survivors After Suicide Program

Friends For Survival, Inc. is a California-based outreach organization open to those who have lost family or friends by suicide, and also to professionals who work with those who have been touched by a suicide tragedy. FFS also offers monthly support groups.

Kern County Resources

Kern County Crisis Hotline 1-800-991-5272

Kern County HHSA

Although it’s a preventable public health problem, suicide has touched many of us in one way or another. Raising awareness of symptoms and warning signs of suicidal behavior can save lives. In educating our communities about suicide prevention, we can reduce risk factors for suicide.

211 Kern County

211/LIFE LINE is here for everyone, every day, anytime. Community members get connected with experienced telecounselors by simply dialing 211 for free and confidential assistance connecting to vital services within the community.

Bakersfield College

BC Campus Wellness

Student Health 101 is a health and wellness e-magazine just for college students. You’ll get evidence-based, actionable insights on your health and wellness.

At-Risk for Students is an online simulation that lets you practice conversations with a virtual student, so you'll know what to say in real life. You'll learn how to determine when a friend needs help, how to talk with a friend who you're worried about, and where you and your friend can turn to for help.

BC Counseling

Phone: 661-395-4011

BC Safety & Security



  • https://www.suicideispreventable.org/
  • https://www.elsuicidioesprevenible.org/


  • https://www.knoe.com/2020/06/03/suicide-prevention-get-help-here-know-the-12-warning-signs/
  • http://jimidisu.com/stress-management-part-2-by-akindotun-merino/
  • http://ncada-stl.org/event/signs-of-suicide-training/
  • https://seasonsmedical.com/news/health-tip-warning-signs-of-suicide/
  • https://parentology.com/5-natural-ways-to-help-with-mood-swings/
  • https://www.suicideline.org.au/resource/supporting-someone-after-a-suicide-attempt/
  • https://www.mixdexhq.com/tv-news/journalists-help-get-the-word-out-about-suicide-prevention/
  • http://techsavvyscience.blogspot.com/2014/01/creating-easy-works-cited-page.html


  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcYHpXXrU9U
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPJD13PYPNM


Created with images by Fa Barboza - "untitled image" • Claudia Wolff - "I received a call from the school nurse, who put my son on the line. My son told me he was very sad and was feeling depressed. I immediately went to my son’s school to pick him up. Before we left, we met with one of the administrators, who helped my son feel a little better. The whole afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad my son was when I arrived at the school. A few hours later, when I went upstairs for some quiet time, it hit me that my son may be depressed…just like me. What I love about this image is the raw emotion that shows just how hard parenting can be sometimes." • Blake Connally - "Man leaning head on wall"