Suicidal thoughts may affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or background. They may be attributed to an untreated mental condition. This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it is time to raise awareness about this topic, which is often avoided or stigmatized.
This month, organizations such as the National Alliance of Mental Illness highlight the “Together for Mental Health” campaign, advocating for everyone to talk about better mental health care. To help someone contemplating suicide, be aware of the important warning signs.
Here are eight of the most important warning signs you should never ignore:
Talking About Killing Themselves
One of the most important warning signs of suicide is suicidal ideation or preoccupation with the idea of suicide. This is when a person talks about killing themselves, acquiring a weapon that may end their life, or vocalizing that they wish they had not been born in the first place.
A person with suicidal thoughts may also regularly think about how life would be without them or how they would go about ending their life. They may even go through the ordeal of preparing for their suicide, such as acquiring a weapon or researching methods they can use to carry out their attempt.
Talking About Having No Reason To Live
Some people who are having thoughts of suicide may also talk about having no reason to live. They may talk about going through immense pain in their life. They may also mention having feelings of immense shame or guilt. They may even exhibit reckless behavior manifested in increased alcohol or drug intake.
If anyone you know is talking about something similar, ask them questions to get them talking about their thoughts. Consider talking to their family or friends as well, and encourage them to get the help they need.
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little
Stanford University School of Medicine affirmed that sleep disturbances could be warning signs of being suicidal. This is regardless of the person’s depression. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Stanford assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Rebecca Bernert, a suicidologist, mentioned that sleep problems, including variations in sleeping and waking patterns, showed up as a sign of worsening suicidal thoughts.
Bernert said, “Sleep disturbances stand apart from other risk factors because they are visible as a warning sign, yet nonstigmatizing and highly treatable. This is why we believe they may represent an important treatment target in suicide prevention.”
Talking About Being A Burden To Others
One important warning sign you should not ignore is the feeling that someone has lost hope in their life. A person thinking of suicide may consider themselves a burden to others, which is why they might talk about how life would go without them.
Be empathetic when you approach this conversation. Expert help is encouraged. You may also help by simply staying by their side and showing them that you care about them. If a person has attempted suicide, call experts better equipped to handle the situation, but stay by their side and don’t leave them alone.
Looking For A Way To End Their Lives
One crucial sign that a person may be considering suicide is a search history that shows they have been looking for ways to realize the act. They may be looking for specific ways to do it, such as a painless or quick way to end their life. You may also see interest in certain weapons linked to suicide, such as blades, poison or guns.
Aside from looking online for a way to end their life, they may also show interest in conversations that touch on the subject, asking questions that could give them an answer relating to their plans. If they are driving fast when they used to be a careful driver, this might also indicate reckless behavior related to suicidal tendencies.
Feeling Extremely Sad, More Anxious, Agitated Or Full Of Rage
Having mood swings may also be a warning sign of suicide. They may feel empty and hopeless, extremely sad, anxious, agitated, full of rage, then all of a sudden show relief. They may talk about unbearable pain, whether emotional or physical.
Reuters Health also mentioned that in persons with major depression, warning signs may include the presence of “depressive mixed states.” It is important to know about this warning sign to guide clinicians and families and friends in knowing the symptoms that may be linked to an attempt. Depressive mixed states include excitation or mania even if the patient is depressed, and this often precedes their suicide attempt.
Withdrawing From Friends And Family
Withdrawal from loved ones is one of the biggest signs that a person may be contemplating suicide. They may cancel plans or make themselves unavailable for routines they used to be interested in. They may also cancel at the last minute. If you get to talk to them, they may mention feeling trapped or exhibiting a loss of interest in their favorite activities.
Saying Goodbye, Giving Away Important Items Or Making A Will
One of the most important things to remember about signs of suicidal thoughts is that they may not be the same for each person. Someone considering ending their life may also make plans with their friends and family – but do so in a way that feels like they are saying goodbye.
They may give away their most important and treasured items, or ask their trusted friends to care for their precious belongings or family. They may even write out a will or update an existing will out of the blue.
If you notice any warning signs in someone you know, make them feel they are not alone. Encourage them to call a suicide hotline number and get help from a trained professional as soon as possible. The 988 suicide and crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached via call or text.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, you may also text “HELLO” to 741741 anywhere in the U.S. to get help in the crisis you are experiencing.