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About Suicide in the US

Suicide is a problem that cuts through every culture, every race, every social class and income level.  It is the eleventh leading cause of death in the US, and the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 (AAS).  Every 15.2 minutes, someone will end their life by suicide.

Over the past 40 years, researchers have been looking the warning signs of someone at risk of suicide and what helps a person at risk. It is clear that therapy, in conjunction with medical treatment, offers hope and help to many.

What To Look For

There are several warning signs that a person at risk of suicide might display to let people around them know that something is wrong, that help is needed.  This list is not all inclusive. Many times, there is no warning. However, if someone is showing the signs below, encourage them to seek help or offer to find help together.

A person at risk for suicidal behavior will most often will exhibit one or more warning signs that follow the mnemonic “IS PATH WARM”:

I     Ideation > Expressed or communicated ideation:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself;


  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; or


  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

S     Substance Abuse > Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use.

P     Purposelessness > No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life.

A     Anxiety > Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.

T     Trapped > Feeling trapped (like there’s no way out).

H     Hopelessness > Discouraged, no sense of hope.

W    Withdrawal > Withdrawal from friends, family, and society.

A     Anger > Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge.

R     Recklessness > Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking.

M    Mood Change > Dramatic mood changes.

These warning signs were derived as a consensus from a meeting of internationally renowned clinical researchers held under the auspices of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in Wellesley, MA in November 2003.

It is important to remember that for every person who loses their life to suicide, there are people left behind with many questions and feelings as a result of this one action. The AAS estimates that every suicide impacts an average of six people. This is a generalization, and each suicide can impact many, many people.  If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a person to suicide please call Third Level or the NSPL for support.

We’re here for you.

If you have any questions, need help, or are in crisis, please call Third Level anytime at (800) 442-7315. A trained, compassionate counselor is available 24 hours a day to talk with you, work with you to ease your pain, help problem solve, find ways for you to cope, and identify referrals or next steps for continued help. 

Third Level is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days each year. Call or stop by anytime to talk. All calls are free and confidential. We only access caller-id if someone is in danger.

(800) 442-7315
3785 Veterans Drive, Traverse City

(231) 480-0292 (Text M-F, 11am-3pm)*

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