Signs of Distress

Are you or is someone close to you experiencing any of these signs of emotional distress?


Learn about the situation. Almost any challenging situation could lead to suicidal thoughts.

  • Are they having relationship problems?
  • Have they recently broken-up with their partner?
  • Are they arguing with their parents?
  • Are they misusing alcohol, street drugs or are they involved in gambling?
  • Are they being teased, bullied or made fun of by peers?
  • Are they failing subjects at school?
  • Are they having problems at work?
  • Are they in trouble with the law?
  • Are they experiencing significant financial problems?
  • Have they been physically or sexually abused or assaulted?
  • Are they experienced a significant loss?
  • Are they questioning their sexuality or sexual orientation?

Physical Changes

Ask about physical changes.

  • Do they lack interest or pleasure in things they used to enjoy?
  • Do they lack energy or feel tired and sluggish?
  • Are they restless and anxious?
  • Have you noticed a change in their appearance or a lack of interest in personal care?
  • Are they having problems with sleeping? (Sleeping all of the time or unable to sleep)
  • Has their appetite changed? (Not eating or overeating)
  • Have you noticed an increased number of physical complaints?

Behaviour Changes

Observe for behavioural changes.

  • Are they irritable, crying or having emotional outbursts?
  • Have they had any prior suicidal behaviour or self-harm?
  • Are they abusing alcohol or drugs?
  • Are they impulsive and participating in reckless, risky behaviour?
  • Have they dropped out of school or quit a job or considering either?
  • Are they fighting or breaking the law?
  • Are they withdrawing from friends or family?
  • Are they giving away favourite possessions?
  • Have there been dramatic mood changes or significant behaviour changes? (This could indicate a more immediate danger.)


Listen to their thoughts, in the statements they make.

  • Are they talking about suicide or do they seem preoccupied with death?
  • Do they have a plan to harm themselves?
  • Are they feeling isolated and alone?
  • Are they feeling helpless with no future?
  • Do they just want to escape?
  • Do they feel guilty or damaged?
  • Are they making statements like “Everyone will be better off without me”?


Try to sense what they are feeling.

  • Do they feel an overwhelming sadness?
  • Are they feeling desperate?
  • Are they feeling hopeless and worthless?
  • Are they feeling disconnected and lonely?
  • Do they feel ashamed or guilty?
  • Are they feeling angry?