We must be vigilant about suicide warning signs in everyone we love
Feeling suicidal means that a person has more pain than they feel capable of coping with but there are plenty of signs to look for. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.
Suicide Warning Signs
Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent a tragedy is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them.
1. Talking About Suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”
2. Seeking Out Lethal Means
Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in to attempt death.
3. Preoccupation With Death
Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
4. No Hope For The Future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.
5. Self-loathing, Self-hatred
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).
6. Getting Affairs In Order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
7. Saying Goodbye
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
8. Withdrawing From Others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
9. Self-destructive Behavior
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
10. Sudden Sense Of Calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.
If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.
If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.
For immediate help, contact:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
National Hopeline Network – Toll-free telephone number offering 24-hour suicide crisis support. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). (National Hopeline Network)
The Trevor Project – Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Includes a 24/7 hotline: 1-866-488-7386.