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Warning signs that a teen is in danger for suicide

Dr. Barry N. Feldman, director of psychiatric programs in public safety at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an educator in suicide risk and prevention at high schools across the state, uses the acronym FACTS as a tool to outline the warning signs for teenage suicide.

F — Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, badness, fears of losing control and harming oneself, sadness, anger, anxiety, self-loathing.

A — Actions of drug or alcohol abuse, talking or writing about death and destruction, getting into fights, or doing dangerous things.

C — Changes in personality: acting like a different person, being withdrawn and tired, not caring about anything; becoming more talkative or outgoing, or dramatic mood changes. Changes in school participation and performance. Change in sleeping patterns, appearance, or eating habits. Sudden improvement after being down can mean the youth has made a decision to solve his problem by taking his life.


T — Threats: Overt statements like “I wish I could die,” or covert statements, such as giving away favorite possessions, stashing pills, or painting a picture of dying.

S — Situations: Getting into trouble at school, at home, in relationships, or with the law.