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Suicide Prevention: Know The Signs

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This past years publicized suicide of famous comedy and actor, Robin Williams, had brought a lot of attention to the much needed public awareness of the signs and symptoms of a suicidal individual.

This very scenario highlights the importance of knowing how to distinguish the difference between an embarrassing moment and utterance of, “I could just die!” versus a more serious expression of, “I want to kill myself,” due to struggles with depression, drugs, or stress. Identifying the warning signs of suicide is a real life and death situation.  In 2007, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., resulting in 34,598 deaths in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Suicide in the U.S. Statistics and Prevention study.

How do you know when someone is thinking about suicide? When is the right time to have an intervention? Read on to learn more about suicide warning signs and how to talk to someone who is thinking about killing themselves.

The Warning Signs Of Suicide

When someone is suffering or struggling with addiction, pain, or depression, it isn’t always so obvious. Most people who have suicidal thoughts or tendencies at some point show signs that they are thinking about killing themselves.

  • Talking about killing themselves
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Uncontrollable anger
  • Feeling of worthlessness or no sense of purpose
  • Feeling hopeless, desperate, or even trapped
  • Loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from family and loved ones
  • Irrational mood swings and behaviors
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Change in sleep and eating habits
  • Neglect of personal care
  • Self-injury and reckless behavior
  • Expressing unusual behaviors and thoughts in journals, through social media outlets, or communication
  • Giving away prized possessions


Critical Warning Signs Of Suicide

  • Person has a weapon and threatening to cause themselves harm
  • Talking about killing themselves and acting anxious or agitated
  • Talking about death or suicide while drunk or high
  • Seeking methods to kill themselves

Warning: Please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right now if you identify with any of the above signs or know someone who exhibits these signs.

You only need one of these warning signs to take action. Many people will not say anything because they don’t want to jump to a conclusion in case they were wrong. This is one situation where if you aren’t wrong, your efforts could save the life of someone you love. Isn’t that a good enough reason to say something?

How To Help Someone Who Has Suicidal Behaviors

Before you start talking to someone about your concerns, be sure to have all your suicide resources available (websites, helplines, mental health facilities, etc…). Suicide prevention does work, but you should know the signs. Mention the signs that they are displaying that prompted you to even ask them the question to begin with. Listen to their concerns and let them know that you are there and that you care about them.  Ask the person if they have access to anything that could cause them harm; like a weapon or drugs.  If at any point you feel like your life is in danger, remove yourself from the situation and call 911 immediately. If they have expressed continued interest in killing themselves, they have discussed means in which to do it, it’s time to seek real help.  Provide the person with the resources that you have obtained and tell them that you are willing to walk with them through the steps of getting help.

Trying to help someone in crisis can be a scary experience and it’s important to understand that you are not alone. There are multiple resources available to help you prevent and intervene. If you know someone is struggling, please contact someone for help now. Suicide can be prevented if you care enough to speak up!

Crisis Information And Referral Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Know The Signs:



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