warning signs of suicide
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 100 Americans take their own life every day.
On The Ricki Lake Show November 9, psychologist Kita Curry, Ph.D., the CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services listed warning signs and offered advice on dealing with someone who is suicidal.
By learning these warning signs, Dr. Curry says loved ones can take action and show the person that there is help and hope before it’s too late.
1. Talking about death or suicide: saying things like ‘I’d be better off dead’, ‘I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.’
2. Giving away prized possessions: someone that gives away their record collections, their baseball cards, that’s a strong warning sign.
3. Hopeless and helpless: feeling that ‘nothing I do is right,’ and ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this mess.’ They think they’ve failed and don’t see any way out.
4. Changes in behavior: this could be a change in sleep patterns, eating patterns. They could typically be an outgoing person who doesn’t show up for parties any more. Someone who withdraws from their loved ones.
If You Suspect Suicidal Behavior
1. Talk to them: don’t pussyfoot around it. It’s okay to bring up the subject. When they’re giving you warning signs they want help respond to that and see it as a cry for help. And say “I noticed that you don’t seem to be yourself. Have you been thinking of suicide?” You might see it in their face if they’re not being truthful. Ask “well, do you wish you would go to sleep and not wake up?” Don’t be afraid to probe a little. It’s so normal to be accepting of their pain. Don’t judge them. Don’t say “that’s stupid. Why would you want to do that?” That would be so selfish. Don’t judge them, let them know that you care and you want to help.
2. Offer help: when you ask if they’re thinking about suicide also ask if you thought about how they would do it. If they say they’d shoot themselves then ask if they have a gun. And try getting the gun out of their house.
3. Tell other people: when a person is in such a desperate state of psychological pain don’t just tell them to get help because often times they don’t have the energy to get the help. Call their therapist, give them the suicide crisis line number. You can call the number and ask for advice on how to speak with them. It’s also there for people that want to help someone.
4. Offer them hope: if you know them well you could say, ‘I remember when you were really blue five years ago. What did you do to get help?’ And if you’ve gone to therapy let them know that.
Advice To Someone Having Suicidal Thoughts
That’s very similar to the things listed above. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Suicide is very stigmatized so they keep it a secret. If that person has health insurance, offer to help sort thru the list of providers in order for them to see someone. Call the crisis line day or night and no matter where you are you’ll be connected.
Common Misconceptions About Suicide
The most disturbing misconception is that if you bring it up that it will put ideas in the person’s head. It will encourage suicide. We know that is completely false. That only helps keep the subject in the dark. Another misconception is that when they make an attempt and survive people say ‘oh, they were just trying to get attention.’ Well of course they are! They’re very depressed or suffering and it’s like someone crying out in physical pain. So give them the attention and let them know you care. Another thing is that we focus a lot on youth and adults. But we forget about middle aged Americans and right now they have a higher suicide rate than any other group. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t worry about youth though. But every attempt increases your chance of dying. That’s another reason you shouldn’t belittle someone. And the last misconception is saying that if someone wants to end their life there’s nothing you can do because if they want to do it they’re going to do it. People give warning signs and basically have their quiet plea for help. It’s not that they want to die. They just want to put an end to a pain that they can’t seem to get rid of. And depression is an episodic illness. So someone may fall into the depths of depression for a certain period but not have serious attempts in five or ten years after.
Beneficial Treatment Options
Talk therapy and/or medication and often the most effective. There are also support groups either for people who lost someone to suicide. Peers can be powerful. There are also things to take better care of ourselves—eat better, sleep, etc. And having a demanding work schedule the problem is if you don’t get in trouble then you’re likely to crash and have a depression afterwards. Electroconvulsive therapy is also really a lifesaver.
How Can The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Help
It’s a network of more than 150 suicide hotlines in the nation and beyond. And because of the technology you’ll get connected to the closest line that’s open. So you’ll be connected with a line that’s 10 miles away or 15 miles away. You can reach someone 24 hours a day and toll free. Everybody is accredited and there are very strict guidelines with training in the process of helping people. They have a special line for veterans and a special line in Spanish. They also have translation services for other languages. There are also lines for TTD for people that are deaf and hard of hearing. And it’s important to note that the line is not just people that feel desperate. It’s also for people that are worried about someone and they need a little help about what to do or to say.