Were you aware that suicide is one of the leading causes of death every year? On average, there are about 123 suicides a day, amounting to over 44,000 lives lost yearly in the U.S. What’s even worse is that suicide rates are increasing every year.
Suicide is not classified as a mental illness, but rather a serious potential consequence of mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders and anxiety disorders like anorexia nervosa.
If you or someone you know might be considering taking their own life, don’t just leave them alone. Even if you don’t know where to start, it’s always best to talk to them. Suicide is preventable. And, that starts with knowing what to look for and what to do.
Warning Signs of Suicide
Most often than not, a person contemplating committing suicide doesn’t want to end their life, but to end the pain they feel inside instead. If someone you love is talking about killing themselves, don’t dismiss their thoughts on suicide as a threat. If you notice any odd behavior seek professional help.
But what if the person you love doesn’t show any warning signs of suicide? What do you do in that situation? Well, someone thinking about taking their own life has a tendency to act in a certain way. These are the patterns to keep an eye out for:
The person becomes distant: A person thinking of committing suicide will usually start to avoids their close friends and family, lose interest in activities and social events and become isolated.
Excessive drinking or drug use: Many people dealing with depression or anxiety will use drugs and drink excessive alcohol even if they’re not an alcoholic or a drug abuser. They might engage in these activities to numb the pain or make themselves feel better, which can lead to suicide. Studies have shown that up to 80 percent of all suicide attempts are done on the spur of the moment, with very little planning.
Contemplates death: Sometimes people will talk openly about wanting to die or to commit suicide. Or, they fixate on the topic of death and dying. They may also research ways to kill themselves or buy a gun, knife or prescription pills.
Makes preparations: A person may take steps to prepare for death like updating a will, giving away belongings and saying goodbye to others. Some may even write a suicide note.
Changes in personality and/or appearance: A person who is contemplating on taking their own life might show a change in attitude or behavior. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.
Sleeping problems: Sometimes people thinking of committing suicide might sleep more than usual or sometimes not at all.
Dangerous or self-harming behavior: Potentially dangerous behavior, such as reckless driving, participating in unsafe sex and increased use of drugs and/or alcohol might indicate that the person no longer values his or her life.
A sudden feeling of calmness: If a person suddenly becomes calm after a period of depression or moodiness, this can be a sign that the person has made a decision to end his or her life
About 50 to 75 percent of those considering suicide will give someone, whether it’s a friend or a relative, a warning sign. But you must consider, not everyone who is considering suicide will say so, and not everyone who threatens suicide will follow through with it. Nevertheless, every threat of suicide should be taken seriously.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and ask for help. It’s always open, and a trained counselor is always willing to help you.