Since this is Suicide Prevention Week, it seems like a fitting topic for this week’s blog. It also seems appropriate, as there has been so much grief and loss with the recent hurricane. According the National Institute of Mental Health, 40,000 people commit suicide each year in the US. Some people who are depressed have thoughts of suicide. Many people are afraid to ask their loved one if they are having any thoughts for the fear that you will put the idea in their head. This is not the case. Asking the person can help you know if they are in imminent danger and need the help of a therapist, or emergency services.
Below are some signs that people may be considering suicide. If you are seeing some of these you may want to ask.
Making comments such as “I wish I were dead” or “You would be better off without me.”
Sometimes these comments are just a cry for help, yet we need to take them seriously. Until we know more of why or what the person is thinking, we can’t know for sure. It is important to ask the person what they mean, and to assure them that you are there for them and want to help.
Giving away possessions for no apparent reason.
Just because someone does this, doesn’t mean they are planning suicide, it’s just a possible warning sign. Asking the person why they are giving them away is appropriate. If you aren’t sure, just ask if they are thinking of suicide.
Saying Goodbye to People.
As if they wouldn’t be seeing them again. They may be getting their affairs in order, such as deciding who will get what, or making a will.
Increasing use of drugs or alcohol.
When using substances, the person become more impulsive and uninhibited, making it easier to attempt. They may not have the courage to take their life if they are clean and sober. If someone is doing this, they need help even if they aren’t considering suicide. Suggesting the person see a therapist or go into treatment may be helpful.
Many people have guns in their homes. And a person using a gun is more likely to die, then any other method of attempt. If someone is depressed, it is best to remove guns or means for suicide (such as pills, ropes, or other weapons) from the home.
This is greatest predictor of suicide. Having no hope for the future or that the situation will improve. We all know that when we are thinking rationally that our situation can improve or we can move past it. Obviously, this isn’t the case if someone is feeling hopeless. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If the person has someone to talk to, they may be able to see other solutions or possibilities.
Isolation is another concern. If the person does this, they are decreasing their support system, which can be helpful. Being alone increases depression. We know people who are depressed, and spend too much in their heads, are not in a good place. Having one close person to talk to can make a big difference. Perhaps if that person is not you, you can find out who that person is. Having a pet can also help the person feel less alone, and needed.
If someone has attempted in the past, this serves as a risk factor. Many people may consider it, but fear self harm, religious fear, or fear that they will become a vegetable. However, if someone has attempted, then these barriers are less likely to be there.
Changing moods or patterns of behaviors.
Perhaps they are eating or sleeping a lot more. They may be moodier, more irritable, or raging.
Preoccupation With Death or Dying.
They may be looking at things on line about it, or doing research on how to attempt suicide. Maybe they are talking more about it.
Recent Death or End of a Relationship.
These also serve as risk factors as grief and a great amount of pain occur. Again, this doesn’t mean someone will attempt, but it makes it a greater possibility, especially if the person has some type of mental illness.
Remember, if someone does attempt or complete suicide, you are not to blame. You could not have prevented it, even if you were there. Someone who wants to die will find a way when others are not around.
Suicide Prevention Resources
Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Use the same number and press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line.
Afsp.org American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
The deaf and hard of hearing can call the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889
All calls are confidential
If I can help in any way or answer any questions, please give me a call at 713-304-6554.