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Learn the new warning signs of suicide risk

July 24, 2017

Todd Kashdan

The apparent hanging suicide last week of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington has brought the topic of suicide to the forefront. Again.

Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said research into suicide reveals new warning signs that can help family members, mental health professionals and others respond sooner to suicide threats—and perhaps prevent tragedies.

For example, a study of suicide notes shows the biggest difference between those who followed through after writing a note and those who did not is the amount of “detail about how they were a burden on other people and society at large,” Kashdan said.

In other words, he said, people don’t commit suicide because they are in pain; they commit suicide because “they don’t believe there is a reason to live and the world is better off without them.”

Other indicators include playing violent and extreme sports, getting multiple body piercings and tattoos, shooting firearms and getting into physical fights, all of which show a sense of fearlessness about lethal self-injury, Kashdan said.

Todd Kashdan can be reached at 703-993-9486 or

For more information, contact Buzz McClain at 703-727-0230 or

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George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.