Suicide: Warning Signs And Ways To Help

Written by Kelly Couture, MEd, LPC-S

Suicide is a topic that many people, including mental health clinicians, are uncomfortable talking about.  Despite suicide being a preventable symptom of an illness, 50,000 American take their own lives each year and it is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. It is also unfortunately the second leading cause of death in people 15-24 years old. 

For many, being in a pit of despair without hope of being able to feel peace again, leads to suicide. Suicide impacts people of all age groups, ethnicities, SES, and genders. Many people are not sure what to do if someone is suicidal, and the signs of suicidal thoughts are sometimes subtle.  The more we educate ourselves, the more we may be able to help ourselves and others. See my tips below for information on warning signs of suicide, and ways you can provide support. 

  • Take it seriously when someone tells you they feel suicidal. Do not just view this as “attention seeking”.
  • Watch for signs of a rapid level of happiness after a long period of depression. This could indicate that the person has come to peace with the idea of suicide and is looking forward to ending their life.
  • Suicidal individuals may settle their affairs, make plans for funerals, and give away their possessions to loved ones. Many people will begin saying “goodbyes” to friends and loved ones.
  • For teens, if you hear or see something, say something. This may be info from a teen’s friend or concerning posts on social media.
  • When a person expresses deep feelings of hopelessness or lack of any future orientation, this may be a sign that they are suicidal.
  • People sometimes research methods of suicide to find the most “effective” way to end their life.
  • People may begin to talk about suicide more frequently.
  • After a significant trauma or the suicide of a friend or loved one, there should be monitoring of individuals, to see if there are signs that they want to “follow” the loved one or friend into death.
  • If there is a family history of suicide, this could increase the risk of one being susceptible to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • If there are concerns that someone is suicidal, seek help and take the possibility seriously. Take the person to the closest emergency room, local crisis center or call 911.
  • If you or a loved one is feeling depressed, seek help via therapy, which provides support and guidance, and has been found effective to treat mental illness before it begins to spiral out of control.

Suicide should be talked about openly and without judgment. It is preventable yet it occurs too frequently. Let’s reduce the stigma around mental health by asking questions and having important conversations. Together, we can promote change and help save lives. 

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