Suicide warning signs

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) uses the acronym “IS PATH WARM”

to identify the warning signs that a person may be suicidal:


I – Ideation about suicide

S – Substance abuse e.g. alcohol, drugs

P – Purposelessness in life

A – Anxiety or feeling overwhelmed

T – Trapped, feel there is no way out

H – Hopelessness or Helplessness

W – Withdraw from family, friends, activities

A – Anger or rage

R – Recklessness: engaging in unsafe, risky, harmful behaviours

M – Mood change


More subtle signs include:

  • hearing voices to kill self,
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Giving away or selling belongings
  • Suddenly happy and enthusiastic after a lengthy period of profound sadness
  • Referencing a specific day/date in the future
  • Unwillingness to make plans past a specific date
  • Inviting family and friends for a social get together


If you have suicidal thoughts:

  • Remove self from location e.g. if plan to self harm in bathroom, go to another room
  • Call a trusted friend or family member
  • Call local crisis centre
  • Go to nearest ER department or call 911


If you know someone who is expressing suicidal thoughts:

  • Do Not Leave person alone
  • Call local crisis centre and/or emergency police services
  • Take person to nearest ER department
  • If person has self harmed call 911 immediately


Post Care:

  • Follow up with Physician or Psychiatrist
  • Consider counselling and/or participation in a support group
  • Contact Canadian Mental Health Association