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A search of possible youth suicide warning signs on the internet produces an enormous list, most of which are based on speculation and anecdotal report and not derived from the best available evidence. In 2012, leaders from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS) endeavored to create a national consensus around youth warning signs.  To that end, AAS and NCPYS convened a panel of national and international experts to resolve this problem.  The purpose of this process was to help the public better understand the way youth think, feel, and behave prior to making life-threatening suicide attempts and inform them about how to effectively respond. Further, they sought to promote a clear and consistent message about what the true warning signs of suicide are for youth.


In August 2013, AAS, NCPYS, and SAMHSA, convened an expert panel at SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The panel consisted of researchers with extensive experience working with suicidal youth, developing a greater understanding of the factors related to suicide, and coming up with new treatments to assist those suffering in silence. Also included were public health officials, clinicians with decades of individual experience helping suicidal youth, and various other stakeholders including individuals representing national organizations focused on suicide prevention and school teachers. Prior to the meeting, the experts reviewed and analyzed the available literature.  In addition, leadership at AAS and SAVE conducted a survey of youth suicide attempt survivors, as well as those who lost youth to suicide. The goal was to determine what changes occurred immediately before the suicide attempt or death. The panel met for one and a half days with the task of hearing about and reviewing the full body of literature available on the topic and determining a consensus list of warning signs for youth suicide that are rooted in science and our best understanding of clinical practice.  SAVE then facilitated focus groups in order to refine messaging.


The information provided on this website reflects the consensus view of the expert panel. 


Panelists included:


Alan Apter, MD; University of Tel Aviv, Israel

Skye Bass, MSW; Indian Health Service

Lanny Berman, PhD, ABPP; American Association of Suicidology

David Bond, LCSE, BCETS;The Trevor Project

Chelsea Booth, PhD; SAMHSA

Christina Esposito-Smythers, PhD; George Mason University

Amy Goldstein, PhD; National Institute of Mental Health

David Goldston, PhD; Duke University Medical Center

Madelyn Gould, PhD, MPH; Columbia University

Peter Gutierrez, PhD; University of Colorado, Denver Veterans Administration

Sean Joe, PhD; University of Michigan

Cheryl King, PhD, ABPP; University of Michigan

David Klonsky, PhD; University of British Columbia

Amy Kulp, MS; National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide

Richard McKeon, PhD, MPH; Suicide Branch Chief, SAMHSA

Dan Reidenberg, PsyD, FAPA, FACFEI, CRS, BCPC, CMT; Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Maureen Underwood, LCSW, CGP; Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

Michelle Scott, PhD, MSW; Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

David Shaffer, MD; Columbia University

Mort Silverman, MD; University of Chicago

Barbara Stanley, PhD; Columbia University

John Walkup, MD; Weill Cornell Medical College

Joe Vulopas; Aevidum

Matthew Wintersteen, PhD; Thomas Jefferson University

Eileen Zeller, MPH; SAMHSA

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