What You Can Do to Help Prevent a Suicide
WATCH FOR WARNING SIGNS
Studies have found that more than 75% of all completed suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair. Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.
- Conditions associated with increased risk of suicide
- Death or terminal illness of relative or friend
- Divorce, separation, broken relationship, stress on family
- Loss of health (real or imagined)
- Loss of job, home, money, status, self-esteem, personal security
- Alcohol or drug abuse Depression or anxiety disorders
Emotional and behavioral changes associated with suicide
- Overwhelming pain
- Sadness, hopelessness or powerlessness
- Anxiousness, irritability or anger
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, no one cares
- Fears of losing control, harming self or others
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Declining performance in school, work, or other activities
- Social isolation or association with a group that has different moral standards
- Declining interest in sex, friends, or activities previously enjoyed
- Neglect of personal hygiene or deteriorating physical appearance
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Previous suicide attempts
- Suicidal ideation or feelings
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Reckless behavior
- Unexplained accidents
- Planning the suicide, setting a time, acquiring the means, and rehearsing
- Making out a will or giving away prized possessions
- Inappropriately saying goodbye, as if the goodbye were final
- Making ambiguous statements, such as “You won’t have to worry about me anymore…” or “I want to go to sleep and never wake up…”
Suicide Warning Signs in Teens/Young Adults
- Talking or joking about suicide
- Fantasizing about how much more loved they would be if they were dead
- Engaging in reckless and dangerous activities
- Saying goodbye as if it were a final goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
- Searching for weapons, pills, etc. in order to kill themselves
Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Teens/Young Adults
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Anger, irritability or hostility
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Restlessness or agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Change in eating and sleeping patterns
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide or death
ASK “ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE?”
If you know someone who is severely depressed or experiencing deep pain, do not be afraid to ask if they are having thoughts about suicide. By taking the time to ask, you show that person that you care about them and take their pain seriously. It also gives the person a chance to share their pain with you, and to realize that they are not alone.
BE WILLING TO TRULY LISTEN
Let the person vent, it can help them to release some of the pain they are holding in. You don’t need to say much, there is no ‘right’ thing to say. Just being with that person in their pain will give a small bit of relief that they are not alone. Let them know you are glad they turned to you. Avoid giving advice or arguing. Do not minimize their feelings or their problems. It does not matter how bad the problem is, what matters is how badly the problem is hurting the person.
TAKE WARNING SIGNS SERIOUSLY
Any signs of suicide should be taken seriously. Not all people who commit suicide show all the symptoms. Don’t assume that they are not depressed enough, or that their problems are not big enough. Everyone processes pain differently, and what may not be much to deal with in your mind may be overwhelming for another. If someone has confided in you, it is likely that they believe you are caring and are more able to cope with misfortune than they are. The part of them that wants to live is hoping for your help.
URGE PROFESSIONAL HELP
Let the person know that you care and want to continue to go through this dark time with them, but that you suggest that they speak with a professional as well. This will like take some persistence and patience on your part. Let them know about the many ways that a professional can be contacted, and that they can always remain anonymous.
DO NOT LEAVE A PERSON IN CRISIS ALONE
A person in crisis should not be alone. If there are means to commit suicide on hand, try to remove them from the situation.
DO NOT TRY TO HANDLE THE SITUATION ALL ON YOUR OWN
Though a person contemplating suicide is likely to request secrecy, it is never a good idea to try to handle a situation this serious on your own. Call one of the helplines for advice, or confide in someone you trust. You should have a person that you can talk through the situation with. You will be a better source of support if you are supported as well.
If the person is unwilling to get help for themselves, despite your best efforts, then it may be time to get help for them. While you may feel this is a breach of privacy, it may also save a life.