Youth Suicide Warning Signs - Action for Healthy Kids
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Youth Suicide Warning Signs

As children and teenagers grow, it is common for them to display changes in mood and behaviors. Youth who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors do not always appear depressed, and it is important to be able to differentiate moods and behaviors that are typical from those that could suggest that your child is experiencing more serious mental health concerns. 

Warning Signs

  • Talking about wanting to kill themselves or escape pain in direct or indirect ways could mean the child or teen is experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors. This can sound like, “I want to die”, or “I feel like I can’t go on”. 
  • Subtle changes in sleep, behaviors and mood over time is a part of normal child development. Drastic shifts in sleeping patterns, behaviors and/or mood should be given attention, as it may be a sign of suicidal thoughts or feelings.  
  • It’s common for young people to express their thoughts and feelings through art or writing. Art or writing that has themes of emotional suffering or death should be asked about. 
  • It is not uncommon for teenagers to be curious about or to experiment with drugs or alcohol. However, frequent and over-use of drugs and/or alcohol is often correlated with suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors. 

Imminent Signs of Suicide

If you notice any of these signs, find help right away and don’t leave your child alone.

  • Researching ways to die, including getting a firearm  
  • Talking about specific plans or ideas about how to die 
  • Making final arrangements, such as giving away their things, planning a funeral, and/or saying goodbye 

If you are concerned about the immediate safety of yourself or someone else, call 911 (emergency services) or 988 (suicide and crisis lifeline). 


This project on Improving Mental, Behavioral and Academic Supports to Students and Families, Part 2 is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $434,555 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.