Suicide: How to Spot the Warning Signs

Woman sitting on the floor
Woman sitting on the floor

With the sad news of the deaths of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, The Doctors share tips on how to possibly spot the warning signs of someone who is considering taking their life.

According to The Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the warning signs of suicide are separated into two categories -- immediate risk and serious risk.

Immediate risk signs could include: 

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

(It is highly recommended that if any of the three immediate signs are exhibited to call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a mental health professional.)

Serious risk behaviors, especially if they are new, have increased recently or are connected to a painful or traumatic event, may include:

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

The Doctors recently spoke to psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser specifically about the alarming rates of teen suicide. She shared some tips for parents to keep in mind regarding their teenagers and suggests:

  • Know the language that your teens are using, such as the acronym "KMS" which means, "kill myself"
  • Stay connected with your teen and continue to build your relationship
  • Don't ask, "How was your day" right when your child walks in the door, wait until later in the night until they have relaxed and unwind
  • Stay connected with your child's teachers and coaches as they might be the one first aware of a possible problem


The deaths of Bourdain and Spade remind us of an important discussion ER physician Dr. Travis Stork had with Dr. Phil McGraw about suicide following the death of Robin Williams, which is still poignant and powerful and just may help to save a life of someone in need.

Dr. Phil, who has assisted numerous patients following suicide attempts, shares, "I can tell you, the vast, vast majority of those people will tell you that it seemed like a good idea at the time, but they're so glad they failed. People that kill themselves, believe that the world is better off without them. That is so untrue. [Suiciede] leaves carnage in its path," Dr. Phil told Dr. Travis, adding,"Don't do it, ask for help... it does get better."

Again, for more information and resources on suicide prevention, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK, or visit The Suicide Prevention Resource Center website.