Disclaimer: The following article discusses topics that may be disturbing to some readers. This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not replace medical attention. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please reach out to your national hotline: 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the U.S., or 1-833-456-4566 to reach the Canada Suicide Prevention Service. Suicide is the leading cause of death around the world for people between the ages of 15 and 24. However, predicting and evaluating the warning signs of suicide is complicated. For decades, mental health professionals have used acronyms such as IS PATH WARM as mnemonic devices to help counselors and the public recognize the warning signs of suicide.
Every day, around 120 people die by suicide in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. For every 25 suicide attempts, one person will succeed. Anticipating suicidal behavior is a challenging task for mental health and medical professionals. IS PATH WARM is an evidenced-based set of signs and signals of immediate suicide intent or risk. Each letter in the acronym stands for a symptom researchers and treatment professionals have discovered and connected with evidence of suicide risk through the years. I = Ideation S = Substance Abuse P = Purposelessness A = Anxiety T = Trapped H = Hopelessness W = Withdrawal A = Anger R = Recklessness M = Mood Change
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