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Understanding the hazards of untreated mental health needs and recognizing warning signs of suicide is critical if you know someone who is contemplating harming themselves. These signs can appear in someone who’s made attempts or someone who’s never attempted to hurt themselves before. In this article, we’ll discuss how to familiarize yourself with the behaviors of loved ones at risk and introduce Hanley Foundation’s Zero Suicide Initiative, a holistic approach to suicide prevention that identifies at-risk individuals and provides tailored help.

According to the CDC suicide ranked as the 12th leading cause of death overall in 2020, with over 45,000 lives lost. For ages 10-14 and 25-34 suicide was the second leading cause of death, and the third leading cause of those aged 15-24. Recognizing warning signs is vital; your loved one may talk about wanting to die or feeling trapped, withdraw from others, or display extreme mood swings. For those with a history of self-harm, residential mental health or mental health Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can provide tailored support. The Hanley Foundation, through its Zero Suicide Initiative, promotes awareness, offers support groups, and encourages QPR Gatekeeper Training to empower communities in crisis response and prevention.

Warning Signs of Suicide

According to Hanley Foundation Director of Programs Allison Jimenez, MS, MHC, “When someone is struggling with their mental health, it can feel isolating; Seeking out help or support can be overwhelming.” This inability to reach out for help and advocate for one’s needs can jeopardize their safety. It becomes vital for others in their life to recognize suicide warning signs as impending acts of self-harm.

  • They may talk about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.
  • Your loved one may talk about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live.
  • A person in crisis may talk about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions.
  • They may feel unbearable emotional or physical pain.
  • Your loved one may talk about being a burden to others.
  • A person in crisis may withdraw from family and friends.
  • They may give away important possessions.
  • Your loved one may say goodbye to friends and family.
  • A person in crisis may put affairs in order, such as making a will.
  • They may take great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast.

Additional Serious Warning Signs:

  • They may display extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very calm or happy to very sad.
  • Your loved one may make a plan or look for ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling pills, searching for lethal methods online, or buying a gun.
  • A person in crisis may talk about feeling tremendous guilt or shame.
  • They may use alcohol or drugs more often.
  • Your loved one may act anxious or agitated.
  • A person in crisis may change eating or sleeping habits.
  • They may show rage or talk about seeking revenge.

Florida’s Baker Act

A Baker Act proceeding in Florida allows for emergency services and temporary detention of individuals for up to 72 hours for mental health examination under Florida Statute Chapter 394. However, it does not guarantee long-term placement. To be eligible, an individual must meet specific criteria, including having a mental illness, refusing voluntary examination, being unable to determine the necessity of examination, and posing a threat of harm to themselves or others. A Baker Act petition can be filed by anyone who has personally witnessed an individual causing harm or by a law enforcement officer who believes an individual meets the criteria. Additionally, a qualified medical professional can execute a certificate based on observed behavior within the past 48 hours. The court may consider an “ex parte” petition without initially serving it to the person sought to be Baker Acted, but it may schedule a subsequent hearing upon review.

Hanley Foundation’s Support Groups

Hanley Foundation Director of Programs Allison Jimenez, MS, MHC, underscores the need for a multi-faceted approach to support. “Currently, Hanley Foundation offers three support groups, which include Project HOPE for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, Project COPE for those who have a loved one battling opioid use disorder or has a lost their battle to opioid use disorder, and grief support for those who have lost someone due to substance use,” Jimenez explains. “We educate the community on the warning signs and risk factors for suicide and teach people how to Question, Persuade, and Refer someone to help who is experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Suicide Prevention Training

Becoming a certified QPR Gatekeeper empowers individuals to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, much like those trained in CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver help save lives. QPR (which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer) equips participants with the skills needed to intervene effectively. Training sessions, conducted in English and Creole, occur several times monthly with both in-person or virtual trainings. Sign up now to become a QPR Gatekeeper and learn how to assist someone in crisis. We can also bring this training to organizations, for inquiries, please contact Take a proactive step in mental health awareness and crisis response by participating in these vital training sessions.

Get Help Now at Hanley Center

For individuals grappling with a history of self-harm and unmet mental health needs, residential mental health programs or mental health Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can offer vital support. These programs provide a structured and immersive environment where participants receive intensive therapeutic interventions, individualized care plans, and a comprehensive approach to address their unique mental health challenges. Residential programs offer a safe, 24/7 therapeutic community, fostering a healing environment. Mental Health IOPs provide flexibility, allowing individuals to engage in treatment while maintaining aspects of their daily lives. Hanley Foundation stands as a valuable resource, offering information and personalized treatment programs for those seeking guidance on mental health options, emphasizing a holistic and tailored approach to foster long-term recovery and well-being.

Hanley Foundation’s Zero Suicide Initiative

Hanley Foundation’s Zero Suicide Initiative is committed to reducing stigma and increasing awareness. Our campaigns touch lives throughout our five counties of service, sharing real-life stories of survival and hope and promoting the message that people are not alone in their struggles. We are committed to producing high-quality, shareable content and stories of hope while providing resources to ensure fewer people die by suicide. If you or someone you know needs support now, please don’t wait. Call or text 988, a 24/7 hotline that can be called to receive live assistance, learn more on their website. These resources will connect you with a trained crisis counselor who can help.