Signs of Suicide and Suicide Prevention

September 10, 2019

Denver Health Suicide Prevention Blog Hands Reaching Out

Suicide Awareness Month and World Suicide Prevention Day

September is Suicide Awareness Month and today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is an especially relevant topic in Colorado, which is the 10th leading state in the country for suicide prevalence. In 2017, Colorado had 1,181 deaths by suicide, or 20.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The national average is 14 suicides per 100,000 people. To make matters worse, the prevalence of suicide has increased in the U.S. and Colorado by about 30 percent in the past decade.

Denver Health, with a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, is at the forefront of addressing this growing problem. The project’s director is Dr. Scott Simpson, Denver Health's medical director of Psychiatric Emergency Services. Dr. Simpson leads a team that trains staff and providers in how to assess for suicide and refer people to care.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior

We should all be aware of suicide risk factors, the signs of suicide and what we can do for someone having suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers 12 warning signs that someone is at risk of suicide. These warning signs include:

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling trapped
  • Substance use
  • Looking for lethal means
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Making plans to die

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

The CDC recommends the following five steps for helping someone who might have suicidal thoughts: 

  1. Ask about suicide. Asking about suicide does not cause someone to think about suicide.
  2. Keep the person safe
  3.  Be present
  4. Help connect people to behavioral health care
  5. Follow up to show you care

Suicide Prevention Resources

There are various resources in Colorado that might be helpful for someone considering suicide. Denver Health's Psychiatric Emergency Services is a 24/7 service that provides emergent and individualized evaluation, crisis stabilization and treatment for patients presenting with psychiatric and/or substance-related emergencies.

Learn more about Denver Health's Behavioral Health services.

Phone and Text Suicidal Help

The state has a 24-hour telephone number for people to call for free and confidential support. The number is 1-844-493-TALK. People can also text 'TALK'  to 38255 or go to Just like in other emergencies, you can also call 911 for immediate help.

Christian Thurstone, M.D. is the Director of Behavioral Health at Denver Health. He has been with Denver Health for 13 years, achieving an international reputation for working with teenagers and addiction, including as director of Denver Health's STEP program (Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention Program) for adolescents ages 12-21. He also serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve, training Army Mental Health Specialists to treat soldiers for mental health issues.