Top 5 Suicide Warning Signs

Emi Golding, Director of Psychology for the Workplace Mental Health Institute outlines the top 5 warning signs of suicide.


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Video #1: The Top 5 Suicide Warning Signs

We’re pleased to bring you the first in a series of videos by our Director of Psychology, Emi Golding, aiming to shed some light on the issue of workplace suicide.

In this video, Emi discusses the top 5 warning signs for person at risk of suicide.

For those of you watching in an open plan office, we’ve provided the transcript of the video below.

Thank you for watching.


Transcript of video

I’ve recorded this short series of videos because like many other leaders and mental health professionals, I’m concerned about a deadly epidemic that is spreading through Australian workplaces.

It is the leading cause of death in men aged 25 to 55.
And the leading cause of death in women aged 25-34.

That epidemic is suicide.

While we don’t know exactly how many suicides are work-related, one Australian study found that 17% of suicides in Victoria from 2000–2007 were work-related. If you apply that across the country, that’s 3,800 suicides over the decade to 2011 that might have been work-related.

That is a staggering amount of shock and trauma for the family, friends and work colleagues who were left behind.

It’s a common myth that people who really want to suicide don’t tell anyone. The evidence is that 8 out of 10 people give definite warning signs of their intention to kill themselves.

BUT – these warning signs are often given in code. So it’s only after the fact that people can look back and realise that the person’s comments and actions had a deeper meaning.

So in this video I want to cover the top 5 warning signs of suicide. If you’ve already downloaded our Suicide Warning Signs Guide, you’ll be able to learn about the full 13 signs. But for now, let’s cover the 5 most common ones:

13 Suicide Warning Signs

The first is a preoccupation with death.

This can extend to talking, writing, or joking about death and includes drawing and other artistic expression.

Second, the person may talk about others who have suicided.

They may be glorifying someone who has died, such as talking about how wonderful or brave they were. It could be that they’re testing to see what your reaction is – to see whether it’s safe or not to talk to you about how they are feeling.

Thirdly, withdrawal.

Withdrawing or avoiding contact with other people can be a common sign of depression, which increases the risk of suicide. Sometimes the person who is considering suicide first withdraws from those around them to protect them from the pain of their suicide when it happens.

Giving away personal possessions.

This is especially notable in young people, who are not likely to give away many or their possessions in normal circumstances. It might be their car, jewellery, or even a loved pet, saying they can’t care for it anymore.

The fifth warning sign of a potential suicide risk is loss of interest in activities that a person previously enjoyed.

Suddenly giving up sports, hobbies, or socialising is another sign of depression and hopelessness. This can be very hard for them because they no longer feel any meaning in doing those things. They might say “what’s the point?”

If watching this video has made you concerned about someone at work, or a friend or family member, please contact one of the specialist services listed below:

In Australia: Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467. For international assistance, visit this site:

Now, as leaders and work colleagues there is something very important we can do. We can learn to identify the warning signs of suicide, so we can reach out to someone at risk, before things move past the point of no return.

So please, share this video. And if you haven’t already, download our Suicide Warning Signs Guide and familiarise yourself with the 13 warning signs of a person at risk of suicide.

And if you would like to develop your skills in this area, we offer an online Suicide Prevention course. In it you’ll learn some practical, life saving skills to identify the warning signs early and intervene correctly. The course can be completed on any desktop or mobile device, at a time that is convenient to you.

Thank you and take care.