• Other risk factors for suicide include:

* One or more prior suicide attempts

* Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse

* Family history of suicide

* Family violence

* Physical or sexual abuse

* Keeping firearms in the home

* Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain

* Incarceration

* Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, including online and in media
*  Lack of social support and a sense of isolation
*  A stigma associated with asking for help
*  Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment Type your paragraph here.

Please contact Susan Lorenz for more information!

phone: (608) 742-9265

Risk factors for suicide

Risk factors for suicide are characteristics that make it more likely that a person will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Note that these are not warning signs or predictions, but factors that have been shown by research to contribute to suicide attempts. Risk factors for suicide vary by age, gender, and ethnic group.

  • Men take their lives at nearly four times the rate of women, accounting for 79% of suicides in the U.S.
  • Over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder.
  • Many times, people who die by suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
  • The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change, such as:

  *  Being fired or being expelled from school
  *  A recent unwanted move
  *  Loss of a major relationship

  *  Death of a spouse, child, or best friend, especially if by suicide
  *  Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness
  *  Sudden unexpected loss of freedom/fear of punishment
  *  Anticipated loss of financial security
  *  Loss of a cherished therapist, counselor or teacher
  *  Fear of becoming a burden to others

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.  Making statements about life not being worth living, hating life, being a burden to others, that the "world would be better off without me," and similar feelings.  Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.  Examples: "I’m tired of life, I just can’t go on; “Who cares if I’m dead anyway;” “I just want out;” “I won’t be around much longer;” “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.”
  • Signs of serious depression, including desperation; feelings of hopelessness; feeling no sense of purpose; loss of interest in things one used to care about; trouble sleeping and eating (eating and/or sleeping too much or too little).
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, isolation.
  • Reckless behavior, increased risk-taking.  Having a "death wish;" tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights.
  • Acting anxious or agitated.
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.
  • Feelings of rage or uncontrolled anger; talking about seeking revenge.
  • Looking for a way to commit suicide, such as searching online or seeking access to firearms, pills, or other methods.
  • Changing wills, preoccupation with putting one's affairs in order, giving away prized possessions, calling or visiting people to say goodbye.
  • Dramatic changes in personality.
  • Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy.

warning signs of suicide

The more signs observed, the greater the risk. Take all signs seriously and  Get help  immediately.   You can save a life.

It is estimated that up to 75% of suicide victims display some warning signs or symptoms.  Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:

  • Talk of, or preoccupation with, suicide or death; threatening suicide; writing about death or suicide. Examples of direct verbal clues – all to be taken seriously!: “I’ve decided to kill myself;” “I wish I were dead;” “I’m going to commit suicide;” “I’m going to end it all;” “If (such and such) doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”

Learn how to act in a bold, positive manner to prevent suicide.  Who needs to know QPR?  Everyone! 

For a QPR trainer in Columbia County, please contact us.   For a QPR trainer in other areas of Wisconsin, contact Prevent Suicide Wisconsin (see "Find a QPR trainer" on menu on right side of home page).

Help save a life

There are many things you can do that make a difference:

  • Know the warning signs of suicide and respond to them by getting help immediately. See below for information on warning signs and risk factors of suicide.  Don't believe the myths about suicide; get the facts and share them with others.  Know what local resources are available and refer people to them for help.  Give hope.   
  • Get trained in the suicide prevention technique of QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer).  QPR training, like CPR,  is for everyone.  The 1.5 hour training is free and available locally.  Attend a QPR training or host one at your agency, organization, or business.  See side bar on right for more information.   


  • ​Do you own a gun? Is it stored safely using a gun lock?  Get free gun locks at Columbia County Health and Human Services located at 111 East Mullett Street, Portage, WI. Keep all firearms locked and in a safe place.  If someone in your household is suicidal, remove the gun from the house-- bullets too.
  • Keep your prescription drugs locked up, and dispose of them properly when they are no longer in use. Don't flush or throw away expired or used prescriptions; they may contaminate the ground water or get into the wrong hands.  Columbia County residents may dispose of medication at any of these sites at no charge:

    * City of Portage Police Department: 117 West Pleasant St., Portage, (608) 742-2174

    * Columbia County Law Enforcement Center: 711 East Cook St., Portage, (608) 742-4166
    * City of Lodi Police Department: 142 South Main St., Lodi, (608) 592-5401

    * City of Columbus Police Department: 159 S. Ludington St., Columbus (920) 623-5919

    * ​City of Wisconsin Dells Police Department: 712 Oak Street, Wisconsin Dells (608) 253-1611

  • Order free posters, wallet cards, and other publications from SAMHSA and display them at your business or organization. 

QPR Training: 

Question, Persuade, refer



QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer - three steps anyone can use to prevent a suicide.  Local organizations like Columbia County Health and Human Services and CESA 5 offer QPR training by volunteers who have taken the QPR Instructor Certification Program, which was created and developed by Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.   In Columbia County, there are eight QPR instructors affiliated with Prevent Suicide Columbia County who have trained over 4000 people since December of 2012.