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There appears to be a higher risk for suicide attempts early in the course of bipolar disorder. Any talk relating to suicide attempts should be taken seriously and reported to a doctor or 911 immediately; access to items that can be used for self-harm should be minimized. With proper treatment, bipolar disorder can be effectively managed.

Bipolar Suicide Risks: An Introduction

Some people with bipolar disorder become suicidal. Anyone who is thinking about committing suicide needs immediate attention, preferably from a mental health professional or a physician. Anyone who talks about suicide should be taken seriously. The risk for suicide with bipolar disorder appears to be higher earlier in the course of the disorder. Therefore, recognizing bipolar disorder early and learning how best to manage it may decrease the risk of death by suicide.

What Are the Warning Signs?

Signs and symptoms that may precede suicide in a person with bipolar disorder include:
  • Talking about feeling suicidal or wanting to die
  • Feeling hopeless, that nothing will ever change or get better
  • Feeling helpless, that nothing one does makes any difference
  • Feeling like a burden to family and friends
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Putting affairs in order (for example, organizing finances or giving away possessions to prepare for one's death)
  • Writing a suicide note
  • Putting oneself in harm's way or in situations where there is a danger of being killed.
If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who is:
  • Call a doctor, emergency room, or 911 right away to get immediate help
  • Make sure you (or the suicidal person) are not left alone
  • Prevent access to large amounts of medication, weapons, or other items that could be used for self-harm.
While some suicide attempts are carefully planned over time, others are impulsive acts that have not been well thought out. Either way, it is important to understand that suicidal feelings and actions are symptoms of an illness that can be treated. With proper treatment, suicidal feelings can be overcome.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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