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Suicidal Thoughts or Threats - Topic Overview

Anytime someone talks about suicide or about wanting to die or disappear, even in a joking manner, the conversation must be taken seriously. A suicide attempt—even if the attempt did not harm the person—also must be taken seriously. Don't be afraid to talk to someone you think may be considering suicide. There is no proof that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide. Once you know the person's thoughts on the subject, you may be able to help prevent a suicide.

People who have suicidal thoughts may not seek help because they feel they cannot be helped. This usually is not the case. Many people with suicidal thoughts have medical conditions that can be successfully treated. People who have suicidal thoughts often have depression or substance abuse, and both of these conditions can be treated. It is important to seek help when suicidal thoughts occur because medical treatment usually is successful in diminishing these thoughts.

The possibility of suicide is most serious when a person has a plan for committing suicide that includes:

  • Having the means, such as weapons or medicines, available to commit suicide or do harm to another person.
  • Having set a time and place to commit suicide.
  • Thinking there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.

People who are considering suicide often are undecided about choosing life or death. With compassionate help, they may choose to live.

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor or get other help.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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