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Effective Mold Removal Strategies for a Healthier Home Environment

Mold in your home is a pressing issue that demands immediate action. With our actionable guide, you can navigate the complexities of mold removal efficiently. We provide clear, step-by-step instructions for detecting mold, cleaning infested areas, and preventing future outbreaks. Whether tackling a small spot or a larger mold problem yourself, learn when to do it yourself or call in the experts. Keep your home safe and healthy with our tailored mold removal strategies.

Key Takeaways

  • Mold thrives in moist environments and can cause health issues ranging from allergic reactions to neurological symptoms, while also potentially damaging property by breaking down materials it grows on.
  • Effective mold remediation requires proper protective gear, cleaning agents, and containment procedures to safely remove and restore mold-affected areas without spreading spores.
  • Preventing mold from recurring involves maintaining appropriate humidity levels, enhancing ventilation, repairing water leaks, and encapsulating surfaces, with professional help recommended for areas larger than 10 square feet or complex mold infestations.

Understanding Mold and Its Impact on Your Home

Moisture on porous materials can lead to a mold problem quickly.

Fungi often conjure images of mushrooms dotting woodland floors, contributing to the decomposition of organic remains. Its benign outdoor sibling has an infamous indoor equivalent – mold. Ubiquitous in any setting with sufficient moisture and oxygen levels, molds typically pose no threat. The real concern begins when they become our uninvited houseguests.

To proliferate, mold requires moist conditions and can attach itself to various household items such as paper products, wooden structures, and textiles like carpets. It reproduces by creating spores that float through the air until they find surfaces where they can endure for extended periods. To significantly reduce the hazard linked to mold growth, management of interior humidity levels effectively makes crawl space of a residence inhospitable for unwelcome fungal tenants.

So what’s at stake? Indoor exposure to moldy surfaces may ignite mild allergic reactions including coughing fits or red eyes. But more gravely it might cause neurological symptoms like headaches or dizziness too severe not taken lightly just due to physical presence visual confirmation damp indoors and moldy surfaces can still trigger attacks related respiratory distress issues asthma sufferers alike.

Dealing structural integrity living spaces consuming materials cultivates could lead to their eventual decay degradation understanding behavior home critical establishing successful strategies elimination eradication known as “mold remediation”

Identifying Common Types of Household Mold

Mold removal can get complicated quickly.

Mold varieties can be distinguished by a spectrum of hues, such as green, white, gray, blue, pink, and yellow. These molds can exhibit textures that are either fluffy or slimy and often emit a musty odor. This is especially true in environments with elevated levels of humidity. For example, black mold like Aureobasidium proliferates swiftly beneath wallpaper and paint where moisture accumulates. Similarly, Ulocladium, another type of black mold, thrives in moist conditions found in showers and bathtubs as well as on surfaces like drywall and carpeting.

In homes afflicted by water damage, chaetomium mold presents initially with a white fuzzy appearance but may become darker over time. It’s commonly encountered under such circumstances. Mucor typically classified among allergenic molds thrives on materials compromised by water damage which carries the risk it might lead to serious fungal infections including zygomycosis.

The Science Behind Mold Growth

How does mold proliferate in our dwellings? The process begins with the distribution of tiny spores that are carried through air currents. These dormant spores spring into action and start to germinate once they settle on a damp spot. A key factor for initiating mold growth is when these spores alight upon surfaces offering adequate moisture along with an organic food source, especially materials containing cellulose such as wood or drywall.

As soon as favorable conditions prevail, it’s possible for mold to establish itself on a surface within three to twelve days and become noticeable to the naked eye around three weeks later. Mold propagation rates can differ markedly based on how much moisture is present and what type of surface it grows on. Understanding the mechanics behind how mold thrives informs effective strategies for its eradication from affected areas.

Essential Mold Removal Equipment and Materials

Personal protective gear for mold removal along with plastic sheeting, sealant paint, tools, & air scrubber.

With our understanding of mold’s origin and growth, we must turn our attention to its eradication. This is where the essential services of mold remediation come into play. The primary goal of remediation is to not only remove present mold but also rectify areas damaged by it within your residence. To accomplish this effectively, having the appropriate tools at hand is vital.

For those engaged in the endeavor of removing a moldy area, personal protective equipment plays a crucial role in maintaining safety throughout these efforts. For efficient cleaning and prevention of dissemination, one needs proper cleaning items suited for tackling affected zones. After completion of the mold cleanup and process during remediation comes another important step: handling disposal with care through adequate containment and discarding materials tainted by molds’ presence thoughtfully ensures thoroughness in procedure execution when properly equipped with necessary supplies.

Personal Protective Gear

Protective gear is essential to defend against mold and various risks while carrying out remediation work. Necessary equipment includes gloves, an N-95 respirator for sifting mold spores from the atmosphere, and protection for the eyes. Larger scale operations may require entire body coverings, protective headgear, shoe covers, and a comprehensive full-face breathing apparatus equipped with HEPA filtration.

To maintain ongoing protection, it’s important to have a sufficient supply of disposable masks and gloves on hand. Reusable safety items such as goggles must be robust and should undergo thorough cleaning post-use to inhibit the dispersal of mold spores.

Cleaning Agents and Tools

When removing mold from hard surfaces, such as wood, non-aggressive cleaning agents like borax and detergent are recommended. These simple cleaning solutions are particularly appropriate for addressing non-deep-seated mold issues. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is an effective option for eradicating mold in smaller regions because of its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

For a natural solution to tackle and remove mold on diverse materials, vinegar serves as a safe and eco-friendly alternative due to its nontoxic nature. In cases where you need to physically remove mold from rigid areas, a paste made from baking soda combined with water can be used effectively for scrubbing purposes. When it comes to professional-grade treatments during comprehensive mold remediation processes. Chemical agents including biocides and antimicrobials might be utilized

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Mold

Mold inspection and assessment process

Donned in our protective gear and equipped with cleaning instruments, we are prepared to confront the mold issue. Here’s a detailed procedure for eradicating mold from your domicile. This routine typically encompasses suctioning up debris, excising drywall beyond the apparent damage to the ceiling tiles uncover all traces of mold, and adhering to an orderly method that comprises assessment, elimination of moisture sources, containment, removal of tainted materials, scrubbing down surfaces and desiccating the area thoroughly.

The duration of the mold eradication process can vary between one to five days. In this time frame, it may not be compulsory to leave your residence as systems for containing mold can grow and prevent spore dissemination effectively. If carried out meticulously and if issues causing dampness are rectified throughout whole house, then successful remediation guarantees against a recurrence of mold growth.

Inspection and Assessment

The process of mold remediation begins with an inspection and assessment phase. To properly prepare for this, it is important to shut off the HVAC systems, close all doors and windows, and avoid using devices that affect indoor air quality such as humidifiers or air purifiers before the inspector arrives. Indicators that you might have a mold issue in your home include detectable musty smells, discoloration from water damage, and areas where mold growth is plainly visible.

Showers are a common source of mold in homes.
Mold was discovered during this bathroom remodel.
Mold was discovered during this bathroom remodel.
It's important to act quickly to prevent further mold growth. Mold was caused by a plumbing leak.
Most mold is hard to find.

Throughout the course of the inspection itself, considerable focus will be placed on examining surfaces like walls and window frames as well as assessing air ducts for signs of contamination. Diverse tactics are utilized in mold investigations, combining visual examinations, indoor-outdoor spore count comparisons, lab testing of samples, and the use of specialized tools like moisture meters and infrared cameras to detect hidden moisture issues.

Vehicles with a water leak can quickly be a hot spot for moldy surfaces due to all the porous materials inside.

Containment and Protection

After recognizing and evaluating mold, the next critical action is to ensure containment and implement safety measures. This phase of remediation is vital as it stops the dispersion of mold spores within the structure. Establishing containment involves creating negative pressure with an exhaust fan while standing water and also sealing off sections using polyethylene sheeting.

Plastic Sheeting is an effective way to contain an affected area.

If adequate containment isn’t established, colonies of mold have the potential to proliferate quickly across surfaces commercial buildings that are already in moldy areas, and they can also travel through air currents to other moist locations where they can settle and grow.

Remediation Techniques

Advancing with mold remediation, we tailor cleaning methods to the material affected by mold. Non-porous surfaces like glass, plastic, and metal are cleaned easily with a water and detergent mix. Semi-porous materials, such as wood, might need sanding or wire brushing for thorough mold removal.

Mold remediation often includes removing insulation.
Mold remediation often includes removing insulation.
Crawl spaces are a common place to find mold.
Crawl spaces are a common place to find mold.
Treating effected areas with the appropriate chemical during mold removal.

Treating affected areas with suitable chemicals is essential during mold removal. Porous materials like ceiling tiles or carpets, when infested by mold, typically need to be discarded. For extensive mold in these items, specialized antimicrobial treatments are applied. Bleach solutions can effectively treat mold on interior walls, tiles, grout, and concrete, while other materials like leather, fabrics, and appliances require specific cleaning approaches.

Preventing Future Mold Growth in Your Home

After successfully removing mold, prevention is key. Manage moisture to deter regrowth. Post-cleanup, seal and encapsulate exposed surfaces, especially in moisture-prone areas like basements and crawlspaces.

Regularly checking areas where clothes and fabrics are stored can help catch mold early and prevent it. Improving airflow and increasing cleaning frequency in mold-prone areas also assists in keeping mold at bay.

Humidity and Ventilation Solutions

High moisture areas like bathroom HVAC system can have mold problems.
Cleaning the HVAC system after cleaning a mold infestation is recommended.
Cleaning the HVAC system after cleaning a mold infestation is recommended.

Various techniques exist to control moisture and air circulation within your home. Dehumidifiers work by cooling the atmosphere and extracting surplus humidity, which supports keeping the humidity levels at an optimal range of around 40% to stave off mold development. The employment of air movers and fans promotes better ventilation by reduce humidity and hastening evaporation, especially advantageous after eradicating mold as it ensures complete drying of surfaces.

Humidifiers are often part of the mold remediation process.

It is crucial to fit exhaust fans in areas like bathrooms and kitchens where they can expel moist air straight outdoors, thereby inhibiting the buildup of humidity that could otherwise lead to the formation of mold.

Addressing Water Damage and Leaks

Faulty windows lead to excessive moisture and moldy drywall.
It's easy to see how removal costs can vary.

To manage humidity levels and improve airflow, it is essential to tackle water damage and leaks promptly in order to avert the onset of future mold growth. In the event of water damage, swiftly locate and halt the source of water intrusion, discard items that have become soaked, and speed up drying by the air conditioner utilizing fans and dehumidifiers.

Once the initial effects of water damage have been mitigated, it’s imperative to detect and fix any underlying issues with moisture like seepage or leaks. Doing so will help hinder additional spread of mold.

Here we have what seems to be a minor leak that leads to mold.
But it travels much further to the carpeting causing causing multiple moldy areas.
From here the mold can grow in the HVAC system and travel through the entire house.
From here the mold can grow in the HVAC system and travel through the entire house.

Mold can be in locations that may not be very obvious at all, such as behind walls, under carpets, or above ceiling tiles. These hidden areas provide the perfect breeding ground for mold to flourish undetected, potentially leading to more significant issues over time. It's not just about the visible patches on walls or ceilings; mold can lurk in the most inconspicuous nooks and crannies, waiting for the right conditions to spread. This stealthy nature of mold makes it a formidable opponent in the quest to maintain a clean and healthy home environment.

When to Call a Professional Mold Remediation Company

Mold cleanup can become extensive quickly.

If you’re dealing with mold issues that exceed 10 square feet, or if your property has experienced significant flooding, it’s advisable to enlist professional assistance. Experts in mold remediation can provide a comprehensive and secure resolution by detecting and treating concealed areas of mold growth with the aid of specialized tools and knowledge.

In cases where intricate scenarios arise—such as when HVAC ducts are infested with mold or after extensive water damage—the expertise provided by firms such as Bio One Tucson is critical. These professionals operate in line with EPA standards to do environmental protection agency ensure proper handling of complex mold situations.

Recognizing the Limits of DIY Remediation

You need more than just a HEPA filter. Not all vacuums are created equally.

Attempting to handle mold cleanup on your own might appear to save money, but it’s not always the wisest decision. The United States Environmental Protection Agency advises against do-it-yourself mold removal efforts for areas exceeding 10 square feet. When the scope or type of a mold infestation is beyond one’s expertise, or if specialized equipment and knowledge are lacking, seeking professional help becomes crucial.

Air scrubbers are highly effective but not cheap.
Setting up negative air flow to ensure indoor air quality is protected can be part of the removal costs.

In particular circumstances, like discovering mold in HVAC systems or behind walls, hiring professionals who specialize in mold remediation services is essential to address and eliminate such complex mold problems more thoroughly from the hvac system. These specialists possess the necessary skills for correct treatment and eradication of hidden molds effectively.

Be sure to act quickly when you discover plumbing leaks.

Benefits of Hiring a MICRO Certified Mold Contractor

Choosing a MICRO certified black mold removal contractor like Bio One Tucson for mold remediation is an intelligent decision. Contractors with MICRO certification uphold.

  • high ethical standards and conduct their business with integrity
  • the safety and health of their clients as paramount importance
  • fairness and honesty in all aspects of their work.

Certifications confirm that these contractors possess critical knowledge to effectively address mold-related problems in commercial buildings, ensuring they can provide well-founded, coherent, and practical guidance according to their professional training. Holding MICRO certifications bolsters both the trustworthiness and renown of mold remediation firms while assuring you of outstanding service delivery.

Cost Considerations for Mold Removal

Understanding the financial implications of mold remediation costs is an essential part of tackling a mold issue. The expenses for professional removal services vary widely, but on average they fall between $1500 and $9,000. Depending on how complex and extensive the mold problem is, mold remediation costs can be as low as $500 or surge beyond $30,000.

Estimating Remediation Costs by Area Size

The best thing to do is to call experts in like Bio One Tucson for a free in depth estimate. They will go over the remediation process, remediation cost and answer any questions you may have.

Understanding Labor and Material Expenses

The majority of the total cost for mold remediation is driven by expenses related to both labor and materials. Adherence to established protocols like those set out in the IICRC S520 standards, which outline required procedures and safety measures, significantly influences labor costs within the overall expense of mold remediation.

On average, labor charges for mold removal and remediation services stand at $125 per square foot per hour. These charges are usually incorporated into the cost calculated on a per hundred square foot of footage basis and can fluctuate depending on project scale as well as team size involved in the process.

Bio One Tucson can provide you with a comprehensive mold removal and mold cleanup quote at no charge. In addition to this, our team of experts will offer personalized advice on the best practices for mold prevention in your home. We understand that each home is unique, and therefore, we tailor our services to meet your specific needs. With our no-cost consultation, you will gain valuable insights into the extent of your mold problem and the steps required to resolve it effectively and efficiently.

Navigating Mold Testing and Inspection

Inspection and testing for mold are crucial steps within the mold remediation process. Although determining the specific type of mold in a residence does not always necessitate testing, certain circumstances may require it.

For spaces contaminated with mold that cover 10 square feet or smaller, and assuming you do not suffer from asthma or similar health issues, the EPA suggests that self-removal is possible given appropriate safety measures are followed. Importantly, capturing images or recording video footage of the mold can assist in formulating an efficient plan for remediation while also documenting the scope of the infestation.

Bio One Tucson will provide you with a list of local companies that can provide a comprehensive mold testing service.

The Purpose of Mold Testing

The process of mold testing is essential in all the mold remediation workflow. Its function is to pinpoint the exact strain of mold present within a residence, gauge its toxicity levels, and measure the density of airborne spores. A comprehensive mold inspection entails not only visual examination, but also involves taking air samples and surface swabs to confirm and classify any occurrences of mold.

Following collection, lab analysis—which includes culture examinations and staining procedures—of these samples usually yields results between one to two days. This swift turnaround time facilitates prompt identification regarding how toxic the specific molds are.

Selecting a Qualified Mold Inspector

Ensuring the process of mold remediation is conducted efficiently and effectively requires the expertise of a seasoned mold inspector. In choosing one, it’s vital to:

  • Verify their licensing and insurance status
  • Confirm they hold credentials from esteemed organizations such as the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
  • The MICRO certification is another esteemed credential for mold removal professionals.
  • Ascertain they have extensive experience, preferably specializing exclusively in full-time mold inspection.

Competent mold inspectors must be adept in building science principles, come prepared with instruments like moisture meters for accurate assessment, and communicate any constraints pertaining to their inspection methodology upfront.

Health Considerations and Allergic Reactions to Mold

Exposure to mold can lead to substantial health issues, triggering allergic responses including sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes. It can also cause irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, nose and lungs. For those with asthma or other respiratory conditions, exposure clean mold is particularly dangerous as it may provoke severe reactions and even induce asthma attacks.

A variety of molds such as black mold (Stachybotrys), Penicillium, Trichoderma Alternaria Aspergillus along with various toxigenic molds are known to precipitate an array of health complications ranging from heart inflammation, respiratory problems and infections to asthmatic symptoms and allergic outbreaks. Those at increased risk, such as individuals suffering from breathing difficulties, people who have compromised immune systems or children, should steer clear of areas where mold is present.

Legal and Insurance Aspects of Mold Remediation

Understanding the legal and insurance implications of mold remediation is essential. Mold damage may be included in homeowners’ insurance coverage when it results from a sudden or unforeseen event—often specified as a covered peril within your policy—which could include situations like accidental water damage due to burst pipes, unexpected leaks from appliances, or the use of water in extinguishing fires. If an incident occurs suddenly or accidentally and leads to mold growth, there’s potential for coverage under homeowner’s insurance policies.

Dealing with Your Insurance Company

Dealing with your insurance company can be complicated. Should they reject your mold-related claim, here’s what you might do.

  1. Obtain a second opinion from an authorized contractor.
  2. Utilize the appeal mechanism offered by the insurance firm itself.
  3. Reach out to the state insurance commissioner for help or to lodge a grievance.

Homeowners whose claims regarding mold have been turned down also have the option of hiring a private adjuster or attorney. It is important to recognize that this could incur extra costs.

Understanding Liability and Regulations

Understanding the responsibility and rules connected to mold remediation is of paramount importance. When homeowners neglect essential upkeep or fail to execute repairs that could halt or prevent mold growth and proliferation, they are responsible for any ensuing mold damage. To have a successful claim with insurers for mold damage, it’s crucial for homeowners to meticulously record all instances of damage and strictly adhere to the guidance provided by their insurance companies.

Hiring contractors who are MICRO certified in mold remediation is advised due to their observance of state laws and commitment to maintaining industry norms.


Addressing a mold problem encompasses much more than just the elimination of visible mold—it’s an extensive procedure that demands insight into mold’s characteristics, its effects on our dwellings and well-being. The process includes the application of appropriate equipment, compliance with safety standards, and implementation of effective remediation strategies while maintaining ongoing caution to prevent future occurrences.

Fundamentally, the purpose of mold remediation is to protect both our health and our living spaces. Regardless of whether you find mold are dealing with a small-scale issue by yourself or seeking assistance from a MICRO certified expert for significant mold infestations, acquiring knowledge about the intricacies involved in remediating mold is essential in moving towards having an abode without this unwanted guest.

While this may all seem very daunting, Bio One Tucson is available to help you through this process. We understand that confronting a mold issue can be an overwhelming task, filled with concerns about health risks, property damage, and the intricacies of proper remediation. That's why our team of experts is ready to provide you with the support, guidance, and professional services necessary to navigate the complexities of mold removal and ensure a healthier living environment for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I remove a mold myself?

It’s generally possible to remove mold yourself using a mildew remover or bleach, but if it’s widespread, like on basement cement walls, it may be out of your control.

Bleach may not be effective.

What permanently kills mold?

To permanently kill mold, you can use hydrogen peroxide or a bleach solution on the affected area, surfaces and items.

Both methods effectively eliminate mold.

Can mold be completely removed?

Completely eradicating mold is an unattainable goal because mold spores exist everywhere in the environment, both indoors and outdoors. Regulating its proliferation is critical to reduce potential health hazards.

What is the purpose of the Code of Ethics for Micro Mold certified professionals?

Certified professionals specializing in Micro Mold are required to uphold a Code of Ethics designed to mandate the professional, honest, and impartial execution of their responsibilities towards clients and society at large.

What is the primary goal of every inspection and remediation project for certified mold professionals?

For certified mold professionals, the most important objective in every inspection and remediation effort is to place their clients’ health and safety at the forefront.

There is no timetable on grief, so it’s impossible to say how long it will take for your life to begin to feel normal again. 

There may be times when it feels like nothing will ever be right again, but try to remind yourself that this feeling is not forever. You will recover, it just takes time.

It’s hard to be patient with recovery, especially as life keeps moving on around you and pressuring you to continue as normal, but you deserve the time to heal and adjust from this traumatic loss, so allow yourself the time and space to do so. 

There are, however, some things you can do to aid in your recovery process and ensure you are on the best possible path toward healing:

Seek Therapy or Grief Counseling

It may feel as though there’s nothing a therapist could tell you that you don’t already know, but therapists do a lot more than just talk. A good therapist can: 

  • Help you find productive ways to express and process your feelings
  • Suggest healthy coping strategies
  • Alleviate shame about the emotions you are feeling
  • Provide a neutral space to talk about sensitive topics
  • Address any suicidal feelings you may be having 
  • Offer crisis support

Professional help won’t cure your grief, but it can help you feel like you have more control over where the grief is taking you. 

Find a Support Group

Because suicide is unfortunately so common, there are many survivors who are going through something very similar to you. 

Finding a support group will help you to connect with them. Like therapy, this can give you a forum to work through complicated feelings—but more importantly it can help you feel less alone in what you’re going through. 

Strengthen Your Community

Support groups are excellent, but it is also a good idea to form a tighter circle of support with those who are grieving the same person you are. 

With this group you can share more specific feelings about the situation, as well as find positive ways to honor your loved one together. 

Eventually you may find yourself laughing together over happy memories of the person, which is a huge and important step on the road to recovery. 

Explore Faith

Some people are able to find a greater sense of peace and understanding through personal faith practices. 

Whether it’s organized religion or general spiritual practices, finding spiritual meaning in life and death can be hugely beneficial. 

However, be aware that some religious belief systems condemn suicide as a sin. 

Carefully consider whether these beliefs will aid in your recovery or if another faith would prove more forgiving and uplifting. 

Establish Rituals and Traditions

As time goes on, you may find that birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are especially difficult. During these times, it can be helpful for you and other loved ones to find special ways to honor the person you lost. 

These can be small acts, like sharing stories on holidays, or larger things, like celebrating their birthday. Mark the occasion with whatever feels right. 

Beginning new traditions is a good way to keep your loved one close to you even as your lives begin to move forward without them. 

Cherish Community & Connection

Above all, community and connection are what will be most helpful in getting you through this time. 

Resist the urge to disconnect from others. Do what you can to reach out. Be sure to accept the help of those who are reaching out to you.

There are a lot of other people going through the same tragedy as you, and you can support one another through this difficult journey. 

There are also likely people who care about you that aren’t connected to the tragedy who you can lean on. 

Even if you aren’t looking for someone to console you, sometimes finding distractions from the pain can be helpful in allowing yourself the space to heal. 

Avoiding Repetition

In the wake of a suicide, there is often an increase in suicidal thoughts and impulses in loved ones as well. Often, these thoughts are a result of your brain trying to cope with the loss. It can become a genuine risk—particularly among families and friend groups with high rates of mental illness. 

To kep everyone safe, have a close community of survivors and encourage everyone to be open with their feelings, especially about suicidal thoughts. 

The more your community unites to support and protect each other, the better the chance of preventing this tragedy from happening again. 

Finding a Future

Meaningful Steps Forward

Your grief may have you feeling a little stuck in time right now—unable to move forward in any meaningful way. As time passes this will begin to ease and you will find yourself beginning to move on. 

When the forward motion starts again, it is an instinct for some to try to hang onto their grief out of a sense of duty to the person they lost, or fear that letting go will mean forgetting. 

Truly Moving On

The idea of truly moving on can be scary. If you’re struggling with the transition, volunteering your time to a cause dedicated to preventing suicide and supporting survivors like you can help to ease some of the guilt and fear. 

Working to do some good in the name of your lost loved one serves as an excellent bridge to carrying on with your life while still keeping their memory with you. 

There may still be bumpy roads ahead. Grief is complicated and can come in spurts and waves, but as you start feeling a little more whole give yourself permission to begin living again. 

Little by little, life and joy will return to you, and though the ache may not ever fully go away, things will get better. 

Suicide leaves deep wounds in families and communities. The scars will always be there. However, with time and support, you will be able to reclaim happiness for yourself and begin living again. 

There is no right answer for how you should be feeling following the suicide of someone close to you. 

Grief is complex, and it’s rare that any two people will experience it in the same way. 

Just know that whatever you’re feeling is okay. 

Some of the most common emotions people report feeling when coping with a loved one’s suicide include:


Especially in the early aftermath, it’s common for people to feel numb, disconnected, and distracted. This shock may last for a long time. You may feel a sense of detachment from reality until you are better able to process what happened. 

Severe Depression

Depression following a traumatic loss can be almost identical to the symptoms of clinical depression. There may be a lack of energy and motivation, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and overwhelming sadness. 

This may ease with time, but in some cases it can mark the onset of an ongoing depressive disorder.


Our brains often try to find someone to blame to protect us from the impact of a loss. 

You may be angry at yourself or another loved one for not noticing or acting sooner, or at whatever systems you believe failed the victim. 

You may even feel angry at the deceased person for abandoning you or for upending your life with their decision.


If the suicide took place after a long and difficult struggle with mental or chronic physical illness, you may feel a sense of relief that it’s over—particularly if their illness put frequent strain on their relationships. 

This is more common than you think, and a lot of people experience this, but you may begin to feel like you’re a uniquely bad person for feeling this way. 

This can easily cycle into guilt. 

You may begin to convince yourself that you secretly wanted the victim to be gone or feel selfish for your relief over not having to care for them or manage their difficult emotions anymore. 

Human relationships are complicated, as is grief, so try to remember that you are not the first person to ever feel this way. Relief does not mean that you’re happy they’re gone, just that you wish something could have been different while they were still around. 


Loss can often feel senseless, and so you may fall into a cycle of “if only” to find reason for what happened. Guilt can also result from any other emotion you may find yourself feeling... 

  • Guilt about being detached when people are relying on you. 
  • Guilt over feeling angry. 
  • Guilt about any moments of happiness you manage to have in the midst of your grief.

Guilt is complex and is perhaps the most common feeling for close loved ones of a suicide victim to experience. 

You may experience one of these feelings overwhelmingly throughout your grieving process, or perhaps all of them in some capacity at different times. You may also be feeling something entirely different from any of these. 

However your grief is manifesting, there is no wrong way to feel at a time like this. More importantly, you are likely not the only one feeling this way. 

People tend to mask when they are feeling something they believe to be inappropriate for the situation, but if you are feeling confusion, guilt, and anger at this tragedy, it’s likely another loved one is struggling with the same feelings. 

It may be helpful to talk to others who are experiencing this loss with you. Some may need more space to process their feelings on their own, but others can benefit greatly from sharing their feelings with each other and holding space for whatever emotions are brought to the table. 

Finding solidarity in the way that you are grieving can make the process feel a lot less lonely. 

Confronting the Why

Survivors often end up torturing themselves trying to understand why their loved one chose to end their life. It’s very easy to get caught up in replaying the last interactions you had with a person before their suicide to dig out clues that might help make sense of it. 

The truth of the matter is that suicide is complicated with no singular explanation for why it happens. 

However, a framing that may help it to settle a little better in your mind is this: At the end of all things, your loved one died of an illness. 

Most, if not all, victims of suicide were suffering from an acute mental illness. Mental illness causes the chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain to malfunction in ways they are unable to control. 

It was their illness that caused them to feel the compulsion to end their life. 

A huge factor of mental illnesses like Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and others are that they fundamentally distort a person’s perception. 

In their book After Suicide Loss: Coping With Your Grief, Psychologists Bob Baugher and Jack Jordan explain: 

“Medical research is also demonstrating that major psychiatric disorders involve changes in the functioning of the brain that can severely alter the thinking, mood, and behavior of someone suffering from the disorder… 

The illness produces biological changes in the individual that create emotional and physical pain (depression, inability to take pleasure in things, hopelessness, etc.) which contribute to almost all suicides.” 

Often people who suffer with suicidal ideation don’t actually want to die, they simply want the anguish or emptiness that their brain is inflicting on them to stop, and for some, death feels like the only way out. 

It may feel like the only thing they can control in a situation that feels fully out of their control. 

Mental illness is treatable just as any mental illness is treatable—but some people still succumb to their cancer even with treatment, while others recover and go on to live a full life. 

Your loved one did not choose to become ill, and they would not have chosen to end their life had their illness not been pushing them to do so.

You do not need to wonder why their friends and family weren’t enough to keep them around, or why they would want to give up on whatever promising future they may have had. Illness does not have a sense of any of those things—and in the end, their illness is what ended their life. 

Understanding this will not make the loss hurt any less, but it may help to reconcile some of the confusion so you can grieve a little more peacefully. 

How to Talk About What Happened

An unfortunate inevitability following a suicide is that you will probably have to tell a lot of people the news about what happened. 

By this point you’ve likely already gone through the difficult process of informing immediate family members and friends. 

However, it may also fall on you to inform the victim’s employer, teachers, or extended family who may have been out of the direct loop about why your loved one is no longer around. These can be emails if you are not feeling up to calling, and the messages can be direct and brief. 

What may be more difficult to handle are conversations with members of your extended community. 

In the aftermath of any premature death, people outside of the deceased person’s direct social circle will always want to know what happened. Obituaries often leave out the cause of death, so there will be a lot of questions. 

Approach these discussions however you need to. 

Many survivors find it helpful to just be straightforward with anyone who asks, but you are not obligated to be. Do not feel as though you are being difficult or unpleasant if you need to tell someone you don’t want to discuss it. 

If they were not close to the victim, then all they truly need to know is that the person died. 

People will be curious, but they are not owed your limited emotional energy. 

Become comfortable with saying no. 

Unfortunately, in spite of the best efforts of many, suicide happens. This leaves surviving loved ones to navigate a confusing and difficult aftermath. 

If you are coming to this resource through the Bio-One website, it is likely you are in the very recent aftermath of a loved one’s death and are unsure of what should happen next. While loss like this is never easy, there are many professionals who have years of experience helping people in similar situations that you can rely on during this devastating time. 

Practical Information

Many resources that help with the aftermath of a suicide launch right into how to cope with grief, but if you are still in the phase of trying to manage the logistics, you may need more direct information. 

This section will deal directly with things pertaining to your loved one’s remains, belongings, and the physical scene of their suicide. If these details have already been taken care of or if the specifics are too difficult for you to think about right now, please skip to the next section. 

What Will Happen Next

  • Transport to a Medical Facility

Once the police, coroner, and/or medical examiner have released the scene, your loved one’s remains will be removed from the location of the incident and transported to a medical facility. 

  • Confirm the Identity of the Person

If you are the immediate next of kin but were not the person who discovered and identified the body at the scene, you may be asked to identify the body in person or through photographs. If the prospect is too traumatic for you, you can decline and ask someone else to do the identification. 

  • Funeral Home Arrangements

If the cause of death is clear, the coroner’s office or medical examiner’s office will usually release the victim’s body to the family within 1 to 3 days, at which point arrangements can be made for the chosen funeral home to transport the body and make preparations for their funeral. 

  • Potential Scene Cleanup

After the investigation is concluded, it is up to the property owner or the victim’s friends and family to take care of any cleanup that may need to happen at the scene. 

Do not try to clean up the scene yourself. Any blood or fluids left behind after a death are a biohazard, and attempting to do the cleanup yourself can be dangerous and deeply traumatic. 

Homeowners insurance will usually cover cleanup costs, which can relieve one potential burden. Bio-One will take care of the insurance claim process for you in addition to handling the cleaning. We have all the equipment and expertise needed for the job, and we will treat the scene, the situation, and any belongings with respect and care. 

What is involved in a suicide scene clean up? 

At Bio-One we recognize that it can be an important part of the grieving process for some people to know exactly what is involved in cleaning up the scene. 

Any unattended death (as opposed to an attended death that happens in a medical facility or under hospice care) generally requires some level of cleanup. The intensity of the cleaning required depends on how the person died and how soon after death their body was discovered. 

The nature of death and decomposition makes it so that cleaning up after a suicide is rarely an easy job. Blood and body fluids can quickly seep into furniture, carpet, and floorboards, causing massive damage as they putrefy. 

It’s also important to know that the bio-matter involved in death cleanup can be dangerous for anyone without personal protective equipment. These situations require specialized deep cleaning and disinfection to remove all traces of fluids, soiled fabrics, bloodborne pathogens, and odors to make the area safe for habitation again. 

At the same time, we are acutely aware that this cleanup is coming in the wake of incredible personal tragedy. While it’s important that the job be thorough, it must also be handled with as much care as possible toward the scene and any of the victim’s affected belongings. It is our goal to complete the job without inflicting further trauma on grieving loved ones. 


The cleaning itself begins with a thorough inspection of the scene to assess what supplies will be needed, how much bio-hazardous material will need to be removed, and the extent of any damage that could be caused by decomposition. 

Bio-matter Disinfection and Disposal

The next step is to clean and dispose of any visible blood, body fluids, and compromised porous items. We carefully follow OSHA guidelines to contain, disinfect, and dispose of all bio-matter properly in accordance with state laws to ensure the safety of everyone involved. 

This stage can sometimes involve removing sections of soiled carpeting, floorboards, baseboards, and other household items to ensure that no hazardous material is left behind. 

Personal Belongings

We will take care at this time to preserve any personal items that can be safely cleaned. Porous materials like clothing and stuffed animals can’t be truly disinfected, but upon request we will clean them to the best of our ability and return them to the family. 

Restoration Prep

Once everything has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, we take care to get everything to a point where we can hand it off to contractors for restoration work. We will handle filing the claims with your insurance company to make sure the remediation process is underway. 

We are there with our clients through every step of the process to make sure they are not left in the dark about anything that is happening to their loved one’s property or belongings. 

While this may not help to ease the pain of losing a loved one, hopefully knowing you can leave the cleanup in the hands of seasoned professionals will ease some of the stress burden during this difficult time. 

What’s next? 

One of the most difficult moments in the aftermath of a suicide is having to inform the rest of the victim’s inner circle of the news. As painful as it was to discover the scene or to be told the news by someone else, if it is your responsibility to let others know, it can feel like experiencing the horror of those first moments over and over again. 

Be sure to delegate. It’s an unpleasant task but a necessary one, and you will get through it more quickly if you have your immediate support system help you with delivering the news. 

You can be direct, and if it’s too difficult for you to handle bearing the emotional fallout of each call, it can be a short one. The only people who need to be told directly are immediate family and the person’s closest friends. 

Everyone else can be informed with a social media post. This will help mitigate some of the emotional drain of telling loved ones about the news. This post can be succinct. Whatever you have the capacity to say is fine for now, as long as you get the news out to the people who need to know about it. 

You are then perfectly justified in muting all notifications on the post. People will have condolences and questions, but those can wait. Focus on what’s immediately important and return later when you have more emotional capacity. 

How to Tell Children

There may be young children in the immediate or extended family who will need to be told. If this falls to your responsibility, wait until you have taken care of your own emotional needs enough to be at a point where you can be calm enough to tell them in an appropriate way.

Children are capable of understanding a lot more than we give them credit for, death included, so you can be honest with them about what happened. Be sure to explain it in a way that is appropriate to their age, avoiding focus on the act itself, and prepare to answer any questions they have in a similar manner. 

Assure them that they are not at fault in any way for the loved one’s suicide, especially if the victim was a parent or caretaker, and then encourage them to express how they are feeling with you. 

Let them know that it is okay if they need to cry or be angry, and that you are there for them in whatever they need.

Memorial & Burial

With the logistics of the direct aftermath out of the way, the last truly important thing to do is make sure there is some sort of memorial for the victim. Even if they would not want a full funeral, it’s extremely important for anyone experiencing grief to have the opportunity to honor and say goodbye to their loved one. 

Most funeral homes will be able to help coordinate a memorial service appropriate for the culture and wishes of the deceased, though some families prefer to do the preparation and memorial themselves. 

Whatever you choose to do, especially if you are spearheading the planning, remember to pace yourself and ask for help if needed. This is not the time to shoulder everything on your own. 

The time leading up to the memorial and burial can be hectic, so it’s difficult to allow yourself time to process. As soon as your loved one is laid to rest, you will need to give yourself the time and space to grieve in whatever way you need to. 

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you are not alone. 

The number of people who experience suicidal ideation in the U.S. every year numbers in the millions. You are not selfish or a bad person for feeling this way. 

Be assured that most people who experience moments of intense suicidal feelings are able to recover and live fulfilling lives. 

Hold that in mind and keep reading. Let’s take a moment to take stock of your situation:

First, Are you safe?

If you have already tried to self-harm today or are feeling intense suicidal urges, call 911 immediately or have a friend or family member get you to mental health urgent care or an emergency room. 

If you have not yet tried to harm yourself but are feeling strong suicidal thoughts or urges to self-harm, please contact a crisis counselor right away:

Fully recovering from your suicidal feelings will require long-term help, but your focus right now should be staying safe through your current suicidal episode. 

If you have not yet reached crisis point, here are the steps you should follow to stay safe while you weather the current storm: 

Tell somebody.

If you are experiencing persistent suicidal ideation of any sort, reach out to someone you trust as soon as possible and tell them how you are feeling. Even if you are not likely to hurt yourself right now, having somebody who knows what you are struggling with will make it easier to get help. 

Know that talking may be difficult. 

You may not feel like there’s much the other person can do, or you may not want to worry them. Try to remember that your perception of your own worth is distorted when you are suicidal. 

You are not a burden. You are worthy of help. The first and most important step to keeping yourself safe is to reach out to a friend, family member, or medical professional who can provide you with that help. 

Remove access to means of self-harm.

Once you have somebody you trust, get their help to remove anything dangerous from your presence. Your trusted person can hold onto any knives, firearms, pills, chemicals, or anything else you could use to harm yourself until you feel safe again. 

This is easiest if you have a cabinet or safe where you can lock everything up and turn over the key to your loved one. But any means of keeping these items out of your hands is better than nothing. 

Distract yourself.

Giving yourself a sensory distraction of some sort can help to calm the immediate impulse to self harm. Listen to music, take a walk, lay on the floor (yes, that can be enough), or pet an  animal.

If the urge is acute, sensations that are intense but not harmful such as placing ice cubes on your skin can help to keep it at bay. If you just need to divert your attention until the worst of the feelings pass, something mundane and harmless like a movie, game, or craft might help keep your mind occupied until you feel safer. 

Create a safety plan.

If you are currently safe but feel your situation may escalate toward self-harm, work on creating a plan in case you enter crisis mode and can’t think clearly. has provided this excellent safety plan template where you can write down the steps to follow and people to contact if you start going into crisis. Share this plan with your loved ones, doctors, trusted religious leaders, or anyone else you think might be able to recognize when you are in distress and can take action.

Long-Term Safety

Once the episode has passed and you are in an okay place, you should try to secure some help toward your long-term recovery. It is time to make an appointment with a doctor or mental health professional so they can help you work toward feeling better. 

If you are severely depressed, you may be unable to motivate yourself to go through all the necessary steps of scheduling and attending an appointment. It is okay to ask for help with this. You are not a burden. Don’t hesitate to lean on someone in your life to set up your appointment for you, and even to help you get there if necessary. 

Available Support Resources

If financial hardship or other barriers to your seeking mental health treatment are already one of the contributing factors to your suicidal thoughts, do not let these instructions discourage you. 

No matter your situation, there are resources for you on both national and local levels. Here are some of the options that may be available to you: 

Community Mental Health Centers

Most states have some level of community mental health services. These can usually be found through the Department of Human Services on your state’s website. Private non-profits can also offer free or sliding scale mental health treatment. A good place to start is your local YMCA or similar community center. 

Churches or Spiritual Communities

Many churches provide support resources for their congregations. Your church leaders may offer free individual counseling for those who need it. Some congregations may be willing to provide financial assistance to members who need help seeking treatment. 

It is also very common for religious communities to sponsor support groups or group therapy. These are often open to the general public, so you do not need to be a member of the congregation or be religious to attend. 

Online Resources and Communities

There are widely available resources online for people experiencing feelings like yours. Free crisis chat lines are obviously a good place to turn if you are in active distress. 

For the process of recovery, many online therapy platforms offer reduced rates for those who are struggling financially. Online support groups can also provide a lot of connection and stability in times of need. 

University Resources

If you are a student, your university almost certainly has a resource center where students can receive mental health assistance. Whether they can provide you counseling on site or help you get in touch with affordable outside treatment, your school can be an incredibly helpful resource. 

Training Clinics

There are training clinics for every sort of medical practice, from family medicine to mental health, and they often operate at much more affordable rates than other clinics. 

The training physicians there are in the final stages of earning their degrees and are overseen by more experienced attending physicians, so the standard of care provided will be exactly the same as anywhere else.

Negotiable Pricing

Most people don’t realize how often mental health clinics are willing to work with people who are financially insecure so they can still have access to the treatment they need. Especially if you have been struggling with thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to ask a nearby clinic if they can help you work something out. 

Steps Toward Recovery

Once your medical needs are taken care of and you are feeling a little more stable, you can begin to take other small steps to help in your recovery. Small things like reestablishing interest in your hobbies and improving your self-care habits can begin to make a huge difference in how you feel on a daily basis. 

Larger steps involve things like finding a broader community of support among others with experiences similar to yours. These can help you progress in your recovery without shame—and provide plenty of support to fall back on in case things ever get difficult again. 

Things may seem dire and hopeless right now, but they can and will get better. It is always okay to ask for help and to seek out a new support system if yours has failed you. 

Once again, if you are in crisis, don’t hesitate to contact any of these resources:

No matter what you’re feeling right now, you will get through this with time and help. Life will begin to feel kinder and a lot more manageable.

Reach out for help. Stay safe. 

The first step to suicide intervention is recognizing warning signs. 

Once the signs have been recognized, it’s equally important that something is done about it. We’re here to help you understand what you can do, what will help, and what to avoid. 

People who are struggling may not be very forthcoming about feeling suicidal. However, there may still be signs that might help loved ones know when to approach them with support or intervention. 

Major warning signs someone may attempt suicide include:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Withdrawing from life and social responsibilities 
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Agitated, anxious, or restless behavior
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Talking about wanting to die or self-harm
  • Increased fascination with death or suicide, especially with specific means of suicide

These indicators are serious and require intervention, but may not be an immediate emergency. However, if the person is directly threatening suicide, posting on social media about death or suicide, or researching or seeking access to methods of suicide, call 911 immediately. *

* Threats of suicide should always be taken seriously, but if they are coming from an abusive partner—especially if you are trying to leave—take measures to secure your own safety first. A suicidal abuser may also try to harm their partner before taking their own life. Get to safety and contact emergency services. 

Signs can be subtle, or even misleading, so don’t blame yourself if some things slip your notice and things come to a crisis point. Do your best to invest in your close relationships so you can more easily notice when something is off. This is especially important if your loved one is experiencing mental illness. 

No matter the circumstances, understand that missing signs does not mean you have failed them.  

It is sometimes the case that a person who has been depressed or in crisis for a long time will suddenly become uncharacteristically calm or upbeat if they have decided to attempt suicide. This can happen because they feel they have found a simple resolution to their problems and that an end to their suffering is in sight. 

This is why it is so important for loved ones to be aware of the person’s feelings and behavior patterns so they might recognize when a sudden positive change in mood may be cause for concern. 

How to Intervene and Provide Support

If you have noticed warning signs in your loved one but they have not spoken to you directly about feeling suicidal, the next step is to speak to them. Starting a dialogue can feel awkward or invasive, but your willingness to talk may give the person permission to speak where they previously felt they couldn’t. 

1. Begin by Asking

Some questions to ask to start a conversation may include:

  • “Do you ever feel so bad that you think about suicide?”
  • “Do you have a plan to kill yourself or take your life?”
  • “Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?”
  • “Have you thought about what method you would use?”

These questions can help you assess how serious the danger is and respond accordingly.

2. Keep Calm and Trust Yourself

The knowledge that a loved one may be at risk of suicide can be overwhelming. Whether they have directly confided in you about their struggles, or you have noticed concerning behavior from them, it can be difficult to know what to do next. 

The first thing to know is that your intervention is already a big step toward keeping your loved one safe. Your response may not be perfect, but your willingness to act on their behalf is already going a long way toward bringing them the support they need during this time. 

3. Press Pause on Tough Love

There are a few things to avoid when intervening with someone who is feeling suicidal. 

  • Minimizing - Even if you believe they are overreacting to their situation, never try to minimize their problems. Mental illness does not respond to assurance that it “isn’t that bad” or insistence that suicide would be a selfish decision. 
  • Shame - Regardless of your own opinions about the situation, your loved one needs to hear that you are not disappointed in them, that life can get better, and that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them. Trying to shame a suicidal person into changing their mind will only make things worse. 

4. Be Extra Proactive

Once you have talked to your loved one about their suicidal thoughts, it is important not only to take action, but to follow through no matter what. Even a person who is willing to seek help may not have the motivation or ability to do so on their own, so your own motivated support is crucial. 

5. Seek Professional Help

If the threat is not immediate, you can start by helping your loved one find a doctor or mental health professional to get them on a path to recovery. You may need to go so far as to make the first phone call, or even to take them to their appointment. 

People suffering from severe depression have a difficult time following through on these things, so it may be up to you to make sure the initial steps toward seeking help are executed.

6. Don’t Try to Do it Alone

If your loved one has told you about their plans to take their life:

Don’t keep secrets. Even if it was told to you in confidence, and even if they are upset with you for telling, their safety is far more important. 

Reach out for help. If you are not in a direct position to help and monitor your loved one, contact someone who is. 

If they are a minor, contact parents and school counselors, as well as any other trusted adults in their life. 

If they are an adult, contact partners, roommates, close family members, or any others who may be in a position to help you keep track of the person and find them help. 

Remove access to dangerous items. If you are directly responsible for the person, you can help ensure their safety while you work on getting them help by staying aware of their location and restricting access to any means of self-harm (pills, weapons, access to heights or busy roads, etc.).

Though suicidal ideation and planning may be ongoing and persistent, the crisis period during which someone is likely to actively attempt suicide is usually short. Until it passes, this is the most important time to provide support and reduce access to lethal means. 

7. Recognize When It’s an Emergency

Finally, if at any point you suspect the situation has escalated to become an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911. You can also call the 988 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Lifeline for guidance on what to do in your specific situation. 

Suicide can be prevented. The more quickly a person’s loved ones notice and take action toward helping them, the more likely they will be able to get the help they need. However, please remember, it is not your fault if your loved one dies by suicide.  No matter the outcome, your efforts are important, and your support could save a life.

Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue. 

There are an overwhelming number of contributing factors, and it affects every demographic regardless of age, race, or social class. Factors affecting certain communities may, however, lead to higher suicidal ideation and behavior within those demographics. 

In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, and it is estimated to claim the lives of roughly 125 Americans every day. Risk factors are many and varied. They include, but are not limited to: 

  • Mental illness 
  • Abuse
  • Job loss or severe financial distress
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Relationship loss
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide of a friend or family member

Statistics can be misleading on which demographics are most at risk of suicide. Among the highest-risk groups overall (teenagers and young adults), females are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide but males make up the majority of actual suicides. 

This is due to a handful of different factors, most significantly social stigma preventing many males from seeking help when experiencing distress.

The likelihood of a teenager or young adult attempting suicide also rises significantly if that person is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially if they are lacking sufficient family or community support. 

The risk can be greatly reduced if a person is surrounded by family or friends who are openly supportive and affirming of their sexuality or gender identity. Even more so if medical and community resources for helping them understand and affirm their identity are widely available. 

Overall, in the U.S. there are around 45,000 suicides each year out of 1.1 million yearly suicide attempts. There are many organizations dedicated to keeping that number on a steady decline, including:

Overwhelmingly, the best means of early suicide prevention are:

  1. When the victim recognizes they are in distress and reaches out for help.
  2. When loved ones take notice of worrying behaviors and take steps to intervene and provide support for the victim. 

These methods are not guaranteed, and there is still a very long way to go in managing this complex and serious public health issue, but education and awareness are an important first step. 

No matter how overwhelming it may feel, intervention IS effective, and the more we continue to do so, the more lives will be saved. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with thoughts of self-harm, please stop right now and dial 988 on your phone, or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

Suicide is currently an incredibly pressing issue in our world. In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, and it is estimated to claim the lives of roughly 125 Americans every day

With so many suffering in our country, and others suffering from mental illness and suicidal thoughts, it is important for all of us to know how to recognize when someone in our life is at risk of suicide. 

However, it is not always readily apparent when someone is struggling with self-harm or planning to take their life. The signs can be subtle and easy to miss. We hope this guide can point out some things to look for so you can recognize when intervention is necessary. 

Your awareness may save a life. 

What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

There is no singular cause of suicidal ideation or behavior. A variety of situations or life circumstances may be the catalyst for someone wanting to end their life. Risk factors include but are not limited to:

  • Mental illness
  • Abuse
  • Job loss or severe financial distress
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Relationship loss
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide of a friend or family member

Mental Illness

In most of these circumstances, severe mental illness is present—which can make the other issues all the more difficult to handle. 

For someone who is suffering from one or more of these factors, it may feel like the only way out is to end their life. They may also feel their struggles make them a burden on others and that it would be better for everyone if they were gone.

Community Factors

There is no definitive way to determine who is most at risk. However, factors affecting certain communities may lead to higher suicidal ideation and behavior within those demographics. 

No matter what, having access to support from family and community is a major factor in improving the odds of survival and recovery for a person struggling with suicidal ideation. This makes it crucial for as many people as possible to know how to recognize the signs and intervene. 

How to Recognize if Someone is Suicidal

As previously mentioned, it is not always obvious when someone is struggling. A person who is feeling suicidal may not be very forthcoming, especially in communities where mental illness and suicide are not often discussed in a supportive manner. 

Even so, there are some common signs to watch for that may indicate a loved one is in need of support or intervention. 

Major warning signs someone may attempt suicide include:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Withdrawing from life and social responsibilities 
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Agitated, anxious, or restless behavior
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Talking about wanting to die or self-harm
  • Increased fascination with death or suicide, especially with specific means of suicide

These signs may or may not indicate an imminent suicide attempt, but they should be taken very seriously. Action should be taken as quickly as possible to provide individuals with these indicators of support and to help them find professional help to improve their situation and outlook. 

There are likewise a few signs to watch for that may indicate the person is in immediate danger, including:

  • Directly threatening suicide or talking about having no reason to live
  • Posting on social media about death or suicide
  • Researching or seeking access to methods of suicide

Any of these three signs should prompt you to immediately reach out to a mental health professional or to call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for instructions on how you should respond. 

If you become aware that the person is in crisis and immediately at risk of harming themselves, call 911 or bring them to an emergency room right away

Don’t second guess your concern if you see these signs. No reaction is an overreaction when it comes to keeping your loved one safe. 

What to Do Next

Overwhelmingly, the best means of early suicide prevention are:

  1. When the victim recognizes they are in distress and reaches out for help.
  2. When loved ones take notice of worrying behaviors and take steps to intervene and provide support for the victim. 

If your loved one has reached out to you for help, or if you have noticed any of the warning signs and the situation is not yet an emergency, the next steps are to begin intervention. 

Talk to your loved one. If they have not yet confided in you, ask if they have been thinking about suicide, and listen without judgment as they talk about how they are feeling. 

After establishing the need for help, involve other trusted members of the person’s family or community to create a support network for them as they navigate this difficult time. 

Ultimately, anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behavior should receive help from a mental health professional. 

Their current state of depression or hopelessness may not allow them to seek this help on their own. As part of your intervention, you may need to help them make an appointment with a professional and follow up. This help can ensure they are able to properly begin their road to recovery. 

For more information on effective intervention and prevention, you can refer to our guide to effective suicide prevention here. 

Every year in the United States alone, around 45,000 people die by suicide. This number represents an epidemic marked by an unprecedented rise in the number of suicide deaths in the U.S. since the early 2010s. 

Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue. There are an overwhelming number of contributing factors, and it affects every demographic regardless of age, race, or social class. The prevalence and universal nature of suicide merit far more discussion nationwide. Unfortunately, because it is such an unpleasant and difficult issue, it remains a taboo topic in many communities. 

In the face of such overwhelming statistics, it may seem impossible to make a difference. However, through awareness and effort, individuals and communities can work together to exponentially reduce suicide. 

What Does Suicide Prevention Look Like? 

Effective suicide prevention happens at many different levels, ranging from individual to systemic, but direct prevention begins at the individual level.

This post will take you through effective steps you can take if you or a loved one are at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Self-Intervention and Prevention

Suicide intervention on an individual level most often comes from the friends or family of someone struggling with suicidal feelings. However, it’s important to note that it can also come from the person struggling as well. 

Not every individual experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior will have the ability or the desire to intervene on their own behalf. But, if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, you don’t need to feel helpless in your own intervention. 

Your life and your agency matter. If you feel capable of reaching out, you can start the ball rolling on your recovery and maintain some control over how and from whom you receive help. 

Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for yourself

  • Remind yourself that you matter.
    Reaching out for help is not always easy, but keep reminding yourself that your perception of your self-worth is distorted while you are suicidal. If you do not have trusted friends or family, there is likely a professional or community member (online communities included) who will listen and take your safety seriously. 
  • Remove access to means of self-harm.
    Once you have someone you trust, get their help to remove anything dangerous from your surroundings. Have them hold onto the items until you feel safe again. 
  • Distract yourself.
    The immediate urge to self-harm is often short-lived. Give yourself a sensory distraction such as music, petting an animal, doing a craft, or going on a walk to occupy you until the worst of the feelings pass. 
  • Create a safety plan.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has provided this excellent safety plan template where you can write down a plan for if you enter crisis mode and are unable to think clearly. Share this plan with someone you trust who can recognize when you are in crisis and take action.

If you are in crisis and need help immediately, call 911 or have a friend or family member get you to mental health urgent care or an emergency room. 

Intervention by a Friend or Family Member

A suicidal person may not be capable of reaching out for help on their own. In those cases, it can fall to a friend or relative to notice the signs and intervene.

Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for a loved one:

  • Ask questions.
    If you suspect someone you love may be suicidal, ask them about it. Asking them directly can help you assess how serious the danger is so you can respond accordingly. 
  • Trust yourself.
    Knowing a loved one is at risk of suicide can be overwhelming, but it’s important to trust your instincts to ensure their safety. Your willingness to intervene to keep them safe will go a long way in giving them the support they need to get through this. 
  • Don’t minimize or shame.

This is not the time for tough love. Do not try to convince the person that their problems aren’t that bad or that they are selfish for wanting to take their life. They need to know you are not disappointed in them for feeling this way and that you are taking their struggle seriously. 

  • Be proactive.
    If you know someone is suicidal, take action and follow through. Remove access to things they may use to harm themselves while they are in crisis. If necessary, stay with them for as long as it takes for the danger to pass. 

Your loved one may be too depressed or paralyzed to take action toward healing on their own, so they may need your help to take steps for long-term prevention as well. If so, it is crucial that you follow through on finding reliable help for them from your community or a professional. 

  • Don’t do it alone.
    When someone’s safety is on the line, do not keep secrets. Enlist help from others you trust to help the person. Even if they are upset with you for telling, in the end it will have been for the better.
  • Recognize when it is an emergency.
    If you suspect the situation has escalated to an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 or take your loved one to an emergency room. You can also call the 988 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Lifeline for guidance on what to do in your specific situation.

Prevention is Key

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe. 

Part of our mission is to provide community resources. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time to projects like this. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again. 

Usually when an issue becomes large enough to classify as an epidemic it becomes a central topic of discussion. Unfortunately, many of us don’t quite know how to handle ourselves when it comes to conversations around suicide. 

Suicide as a topic of discussion is somewhat of a taboo in our society for a number of reasons.

Many people are uncomfortable talking about death in any regard. The same can be said for the topic of mental illness. Because discussions about suicide usually require talking about both, the subject is often avoided outright. 

This stigma can be incredibly isolating. 

For someone struggling with thoughts of suicide, it may prevent them from reaching out for help or talking about how they are feeling. For those who have recently lost a loved one to suicide, they may likewise feel unable to reach out for support. 

One of the best means of prevention and support for both victims and survivors is open conversation. We owe it to our communities to get better at talking about suicide. Here are some steps we can all make in the right direction in order to end the stigma. 

Step 1: Stop

Destigmatizing the conversation around suicide requires, first, confronting some of the unhelpful ways we speak and act about it. Before we can change the conversation, here are some of the things we need to stop doing: 


When speaking about suicide, it’s important to recognize that it’s impossible to know who might be struggling. 

There is no singular type of person who struggles with mental illness or suicidal ideation. Implying that suicidality should look or present a certain way may increase the feelings of failure and isolation in those who don’t fit the mold. 


Often the language around suicide frames it in a way that paints it as criminal or selfish. 

This kind of thinking can make people struggling with suicidal thoughts feel ashamed and hesitant to tell anyone they are suffering. It can also make surviving friends and family hesitant to talk about what they’re going through out of fear that their loved one will be judged for taking their own life.  


Many people report that after they reach out about struggling with suicidal thoughts people around them start treating them differently. It’s common for members of a family or community to tread extra carefully around a suicidal person as if saying the wrong thing might set them off. 

This does not go unnoticed and makes it harder for sufferers to be willing to reach out the next time. Similarly, it can make survivors of suicide feel like their grief is inconvenient or that they are being overemotional. 

Reject the idea that depression or grief makes people too fragile to treat normally. 


It is never helpful to tell anyone who is struggling for any reason that their pain is insignificant compared to others in the world. 

Mental illness affects people regardless of their life situation. 

Their pain is real whether or not you think they should be feeling it. 

Minimizing will add guilt and only make a person feel worse.  


Avoiding discussion of suicide when someone is struggling or has suffered a loss is never helpful. Dodging the topic and pretending everything is fine won’t make the problem go away. 

If we stop treating suicide like a dirty word, it will be easier for people to talk about it when they need help. 

Step 2: Learn

Knowledge can go a long way toward improving the way we talk about suicide. If you are interested in becoming more comfortable with the topic, a good place to start is learning more about it. 

There are many incredible resources that speak in plain language about suicide in a way that is helpful in knowing how to approach the topic. Here are some helpful links to get you started: 

Step 3: Normalize

As you become more informed, normalize speaking about mental health and suicide in your social circles. 

If you have struggled with your own mental health, be willing to speak openly about it. It’s more than likely that others have had similar struggles but have felt alone because of stigma. 

Even the way we speak about victims of suicide can be improved by normalizing discussion. 

We should be willing to talk about those we have lost to suicide in a way that acknowledges their experience without judgment. 

Some people worry this sort of discussion may encourage others to act on their own suicidal thoughts. In fact, the opposite is true. 

Open and empathetic acknowledgment of the pain of the victim and the pain of their loss can embolden others to reach out for help without fear of judgment. 

Step 4: Ask & Listen

One of the best things you can do to destigmatize the discussion of suicide is to become comfortable with asking and listening. 

If you suspect somebody is having a difficult time, make it a normal practice to ask them sincerely about how they’re feeling. If they feel you are a safe person to be vulnerable with they are more likely to open up. 

Listen to them without judgment and with the intent to understand. 

Treat anybody who opens up to you about mental illness or grief as if it is perfectly normal for them to do so. The more calm empathy people receive, the easier it will be for them to talk. The more people someone is able to talk to, the bigger their support system and the better their chances of recovery. 

Another important resource built around listening is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This free resource is for anyone experiencing a crisis and it connects people with skilled crisis counselors who listen and provide immediate support. For more information, visit or read our dedicated article.

Step 5: Advocate

As you become more comfortable speaking about suicide in your own social circles, you can use your voice to help others. 

Speak up to advocate for better support and resources in your community. 

The more community members and leaders are made aware of the prevalence of suicide, the greater the call will be for improved conversation and support for those who are struggling. 

— Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again.