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SPAN provides information and resources to empower organizations and community members to protect their family, friends and themselves from suicide. 

See the risk factors for suicide, warning signs and how you can step in to help prevent suicide. 

Learn why it's important to talk about mental health, the risk factors for suicide, warning signs & what to do

Be a Leader in Suicide Prevention

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Why Talk About Suicide?

All of us have a responsibility to support the mental health of our community members. Death by suicide is a public health crisis throughout the nation, and Virginia is no exception. According to data from the CDC, 45,979 people died by suicide in the U.S. in 2020. Another 1.2 million adults attempted suicide. In Virginia, more than 1,200 people died by suicide.  
Certain groups are at higher risk. For example, high school students who identify as LGBTQ+ are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. There is also a growing suicide crisis among young people: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15–24.   Other groups who are at higher risk of suicide include veterans, middle-aged adults, and people with disabilities. 
Together, we can make a difference in our community. We can start by educating ourselves about the known risk factors for suicide and what can help prevent a suicide.  Knowledge and understanding about mental health challenges also reduces the stigma associated with reaching out for help. The fear of encountering stigma remains one of the biggest barriers to seeking help. By raising awareness, we can all save lives.  
Losing a loved one to suicide is devastating. But you are not alone. There is help. You can connect to a local support group.  

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Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can't cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they're important to be aware of.

  • A prior suicide attempt

  • Depression and other mental health disorders

  • Substance abuse disorder

  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

  • Job or financial loss

  • Loss of relationship(s)

  • Family history of a mental health or substance abuse disorder

  • Family history of suicide

  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse

  • Having guns or other firearms in the home

  • Being in prison or jail

  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as a family member, peer, or media figure

  • Medical illness

  • Being between the ages of 15 and 24 years or over age 60 

  • Hopelessness

  • Local clusters of suicide

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

  • Stigma associated with asking for help

  • Lack of healthcare, mental health & substance abuse treatment


Warning signs can help you recognize if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. 

  • Talking about suicide or death

  • Talking about wanting to die

  • Talking about feeling hopeless, or having no reason to live

  • Looking for ways to kill themselves online, stockpiling pills, or acquiring lethal items like firearms, ropes, etc

  • Talking about great guilt or shame

  • Talking about feeling trapped, feeling there are no solutions, or feeling unbearable pain, physical or emotional

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Using alcohol or drugs more often

  • Acting anxious or agitated

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits

  • Showing rage or talking about revenge

  • Risky or reckless behavior

  • Giving away possessions & pets

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

  • Putting affairs in order, making a will


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How You Can Help

Ask. Talk. Connect.

Speak up if you think someone is in crisis. You can start a conversation that could save a life.

Ask: Ask direct questions to people in crisis like, Are you thinking about suicide? How can I help?  It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking someone if they are suicidal does not increase suicidal thoughts.

Talk: Support them in person or on the phone. Follow up once they are safe.  

Connect: Help them connect to a support system so they have a network to reach out to for help 24/7.  Connect them with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988), 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Crisis Text Line (741741), or trusted family members, friends, coaches, clergy, co-workers, or therapists.

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