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Risk Factors

The first step in preventing suicide is to identify and understand the risk factors. A risk factor is anything that increases the likelihood that persons will harm themselves. However, risk factors are not necessarily causes.


  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Death of a close friend or family member
  • Divorce or separation, ending a relationship
  • Work related problems
  • Physical illness/ serious medical problem
  • Current or pending disciplinary or legal action.
  • Financial problems
  • Transitions (retirement, PCS, discharge, etc.)
  • Severe, prolonged, or perceived unmanageable stress
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Alcohol or drug dependency
  • Setbacks (academic, career, or personal)
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or suicidal thoughts
  • Easy access to lethal methods


  • Previous suicidal behavior
  • Extremes of behavior
  • Changes in behavior
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

Physical Changes

  • Disturbed sleep patterns- sleeping too much or too little
  • Lack of energy

Thoughts and Emotions

  • Deep sadness or guilt
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Loss of self worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • A sense of powerlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.

Remember: IS PATH WARM warning signs