Unfortunately, I have seen suicide at its worst. I have spoken with individuals who were considering it, observed a family member attempt suicide, and attended funerals of those who died of suicide. This is a painful experience, one that intervention may prevent. So my hope is that by writing this post about suicide, I can guide someone in need to important resources and information that might save a life.
Let’s start by discussing health. Health includes your physical and mental health. When you experience physical health issues, like feeling sick or getting injured, you visit a medical professional. But do you do the same when you experience mental health issues, such as feeling hopeless, anxious, or unable to cope with daily demands?
There are a wide range of signs that could indicate that you or a loved one may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. For those who are at the point of considering suicide, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline shares the following warning signs to look for:
- Mentioning wanting to die or kill themselves
- Seeking a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Thoughts about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Considering them self a burden to others
- Increasing consumption of alcohol or drugs
- Showing anxious or agitated behaviors
- Spending too much time in bed or not sleeping
- Isolating themselves from others
- Showing aggressive behaviors on discussing revenge
- Changing moods from one extreme to another
Keep in mind that warning signs are just that, signs. It does not mean that you or someone who displays these signs will attempt suicide but, it does warrant concern. If you experience or know someone displaying these signs, seek professional help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline website provides information on how to help yourself or someone else, and offers immediate assistance for English speakers, Spanish speakers, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, veterans, and survivors of human and natural disasters. Help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-8255.
If someone has indicated that they are contemplating suicide, do not leave them alone. Talking to someone who may be suicidal can be difficult. When doing so, keep these tips in mind:
- Discuss openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. You can be direct.
- Engage in active listening and be non-judgmental.
- Show care, concern, and get involved. Be available for the individual.
- Don’t encourage or challenge them to do it.
- Don’t act surprised. Maintain your relationship with the individual.
- Don’t promise secrecy. Seek help and support.
- Offer encouragement and hope that positive options are available.
- Remove means for self-harm, like weapons or pills.
- Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention!
Now you know the warnings signs, do’s and don’ts, and where to get help. The next step is to share the information. Together we can make a difference.