Pieta - Signs of Suicide

February 28, 2023

How to recognise suicide warning signs

With a new year upon us, Pieta - Ireland’s national suicide prevention charity - is using the opportunity to raise awareness for its bi-annual ‘Signs of Suicide’ campaign. The organisation’s Helpline team received 99,042 calls and texts last year and delivered over 51,000 therapy hours, highlighting that it is more important than ever that people are mindful of the ‘Signs of Suicide’ and know what to look out for in loved ones. Currently, 35% of Pieta’s clients are under the age of 18, while in Ireland, the overall suicide rate for males is three times higher than that of females according to CSO data. This indicates that men as less likely to reach out and ask for help.

When a loved-one or friend is behaving in a worrying way, it is difficult to know how to help them. Knowing when to step in and directly guide them towards the best services is a huge challenge, but Pieta is there to help. The Signs of Suicide campaign works to raise awareness about some behaviours that may be exhibited when someone is considering taking their own life. Looking towards hope is vital for that person. Pieta can provide coping mechanisms that can ease the pain of carrying such a painful burden.

Pieta wants to create hope for those who are affected by suicide, because the more we talk and write about the issue, the more people can realise that they aren’t alone. Pieta is hoping that, by teaching the loved ones of those struggling with their mental health to know the signs, they could save someone’s life. Pieta is encouraging us all to familiarise ourselves with the signs of suicide.

What you can do to help

If you’re worried that a friend or loved one is thinking of suicide – here are some of the key warning signs to watch out for.

What to listen for:

  • Talking or writing about hurting themselves, dying or saying that they want to die
  • Talking about ways to die or having a suicide plan
  • Saying that ‘nothing is going to change’ or they feel like a ‘burden’
  • Saying they have no purpose in their lives, that they feel hopeless

What to look for:

  • Engaging in self-harm or risk-taking behaviour
  • Giving items away or saying goodbye to people
  • Becoming more inward looking and withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changes in their sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep
  • Extreme emotions or dramatic changes in mood
  • Increasing their use of drugs or alcohol

If you recognise one or more of these warning signs in a loved one’s behaviour, don’t wait for someone else to do something. The APR approach may help. Learn how APR can save a life – just like CPR!


Contact Pieta

Pieta’s helpline provided over 50,000 hours of one-to-one therapy in 2022 and works across 20 locations in Ireland. Pieta offers free counselling to those suffering from suicidal ideation, people who are engaging in self-harm and anyone bereaved by suicide. For those in crisis, Pieta has a 24-hour crisis helpline that is available 365 days a year. Qualified staff are available free of charge to anyone in need of help – no referral is needed.

Whether you’re in crisis yourself, or whether you know someone who is, we’re here to offer FREE expert, practical help. We have centresall over Ireland and Pieta’s suicide, self-harm & suicide bereavement crisis helpline is open 24/7 by calling 1800 247 247 or by sending a text message with the word HELP to 51444 (st’d msg rates apply. Top-up customers need to review their plan)

The annual Darkness Into Light event will take place nationally on 6 May. Keep an eye out for registration.

Alison Balfe

Communications & Brand Manager / Pieta