Warning Signs of Suicide

While I have not had thoughts of suicide, I have been in deep emotional pain.  Truly, I reached out for help; but, sadly, I found a lot of condemning and judgment from my friends and loved ones because they expected me to be stronger than my problems.  They didn’t realize that I was utilizing strength by seeking for help.

When we cut people off, chastise them for their heartache, become judgmental, we are adding to the persons grief.  They already feel bad due to what they are going through; we make them feel worse when we become condemning.

Please be mindful, compassionate, and sympathetic when dealing with people when they open up about their heartache.

Here are warning signs to watch for if you fear someone is suicidal and resources that can help those thinking of harming themselves or who fear a loved one might harm themselves.

WARNING SIGNS

• Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.

• Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.

• Talking or writing about death, dying, ”ending the pain” or suicide.

• Feeling hopeless.

• Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.

• Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.

• Increasing alcohol or drug use.

• Withdrawing from friends, family, social support and society.

• Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.

• Experiencing significant mood changes.

• Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.

• Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.

HOW TO HELP

• Ask the person directly if he or she is having suicidal thoughts, has a plan to do so, and has access to lethal means.

• If you think the person might harm him- or herself, do not leave the person alone.

• TAKE SERIOUSLY all suicide threats and all past suicide attempts, even if he or she minimizes your concerns.

• Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.

• Be willing to listen AND BE NON-JUDGMENTAL. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life or whether suicide is viewed by some as a sinful, selfish or angry act.

• Respect that suicidal feelings are most likely related to ending emotional or psychological pain.

• Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support. Take into account other trusted friends, family members or allies who can be a part of a supportive team.

• Don’t dare him or her to do it.

• Don’t act shocked. This may translate as criticism or judgment and weaken trust between you.

• Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Acknowledge that all suicidal risk is to be taken seriously and firmly and gently explain that you are seeking support.

• Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.

• Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.

• Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
800-273-8255

This piece was taken from AL – an online Alabama newspaper. Sadly, a nine year old girl was the victim of suicide.  Follow the story here.

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12 Comments

  1. This is some serious advice, thank you. I am sorry to hear that you have been through so much heart ache. I think that many of us can be judgemental without even realising it. I have begun to recognise it more since reading “Judgement Detox” by Gabrielle Bernstein. I think that some people simply don’t know how to react when someone confides in them, so I hope your advice will help. Well done.

    • Hey Joanne,

      You’re absolutely right. Many people don’t know UNTIL they find themselves in the same situation. That’s when many, I fear, learn to be more compassionate.

  2. I really hope that others will find their way to this information.
    My younger daughter has suffered anxiety and depression for a few years.
    She has actually seen quite a few therapist with no relief.
    She had previously practiced self harm. She has stopped but she still struggles with these thoughts of suicide and the feeling of hopelessness.
    Depression and suicidal thoughts effect so many and the numbers are rising with how many of our youth are affected.
    Society is to blame for alot of it. We need to stop looking at it like they are doing it for attention or that they can control their thoughts.
    Im glad I came across this information. You have given me a few more ways of how I can help her and what to say when she turns to me for help.
    Do you have any suggestions on finding the right therapist? One that truly wants to help her BUT one that doesn’t let my daughter dictate to them the treatment she thinks will help? I say this because when they change her meds, if it isn’t something that she thinks she should be on, then she only takes it for a few days and says it’s not working. How can I truly get someone that will really help her?

    • Hi Lee Ann,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for opening up. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any ‘easy’ suggestions in finding the right therapist.

      When I visited with a psychologist, she told me that it’s shopping around to find the right one for you. She said that some are ‘preachy’ and some are just right. She told me that it all comes down to feeling comfortable with your therapists. That’s when you know you found the right one. Sadly, it takes shopping around.

  3. As a parent, this can be a scary thing. You never know if your children are completely happy, or if they are having any kind of thoughts about suicide. Having a friend who committed suicide when I was young, it just scares me. So I am always trying to stay in tune with my kids to make sure they are healthy and happy. The warning signs is a good list that I now have to look for. Thank you so much!

    • You’re welcome, Leahrae.

      I am so sorry about your friend (even though it was long ago). I deal with the same worries with my children. I, too, try to stay in tune with my children as well.

  4. As someone who have struggled with suicidal thoughts and actually attempted suicide, I have so much compassion for those who are struggling right now. Those warning signs are right on but the scariest one that is actually not listed is someone who is suicidal who show no signs.

    I love your how to help section. Truly, being present with them while they are going through the hardest times and being non-judgemental with compassion really go a long way in helping those people.

    Thank you so much for this article. I hope it reaches out to those in need 🙂

    • I hope it reaches out to those in need as well.

      Are you better now? Have you gotten the help that you needed?

      I am very sensitive to people who struggle with suicide and emotional trouble. I know what it feels like to be ignored and/or belittled when asking for help. People treat you like you’re being petty and childish.

  5. Great article.
    Psychological pain is the worst type of pain and can easily go unnoticed.
    I’m hoping that these tips help someone who is suffering psychologically.
    Thanks, Lane for this valuable article.
    Keep up the good work.

  6. This is scary thing to read.
    I totally agree that we have to be a good listener if someone asks for help. Be sensitive and pay attention as well because, there are also people who tend not to tell their feelings or seek for help, we should never ignore them.

    If we do that it might save a life.

    Thanks for this article Lane

    • I really appreciate your comment. I like how you say to be sensitive. When I was younger, people were ‘hard’ on you if you shown weaknesses or sensitivity.

      I’m glad those days are over in my world. I want to help as many people as I can.

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