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This Month In Life
  • Hearing the Cry for Help
    The first step in preventing suicide is to get educated on things to look and words to listen for. Take note of the person’s mood, behavior, and talk. It may be subtle, but the cry for help is there. Read >>
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Hearing the Cry for Help

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide is the best prevention

Following a suicide, loved ones wonder what went wrong. What warning signs did they miss? What indications did they ignore or excuse? How could things have turned out differently? With suicide rates on the rise, families must know how they can help prevent such tragedies.

The first step in preventing suicide is to get educated on things to look and words to listen for. Take note of the person’s mood, behavior, and talk. It may be subtle, but the cry for help is there. Recognition of danger and intervention is the best way to prevent someone from committing suicide.

More than a Bad Mood

People contemplating suicide will often display extreme mood swings. They may be extra irritable, anxious, agitated, and angry, and they may break out in sudden outbursts of rage. Sadness, depression, and isolation are common. Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or humiliation may contribute to the mood swings, and sudden calmness after depression may indicate the decision to commit suicide is made.

Not Your Typical Small Talk

Never take it lightly when people talk about wanting to kill themselves or wishing they were dead. People with suicidal thoughts may talk about their feelings of hopelessness or lack of purpose. They may say they feel trapped, that they’re tired of being a burden, they can’t take it anymore, and they’re ready for the pain to end.

Unusual, Uncharacteristic Behaviors

It’s easy to blame abnormal behaviors on a bad day, stress, or friend trouble. You may make excuses or think you’ll wait out this new phase in your loved one’s life, but changes in behavior shouldn’t be ignored. Are they sleeping more or less than usual? Has their use of alcohol or drugs increased? People who are suicidal may act restless or agitated. They may isolate themselves from friends and family. Check their Internet history for searches having to do with suicide.

When they’ve come to the final decision to end their lives, people may give away their valuable possessions, make a will, clean their home, purchase a weapon, write a letter, visit friends, or say goodbye to loved ones.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Certain life circumstances or mental health conditions can increase the risk for suicide. Those who’ve recently endured trauma, tragedy, or crisis such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or loss of a job are more likely to attempt suicide.

People with mental, mood, and personality disorders are also at a higher risk for suicide. Other risk factors include substance abuse, a history of abuse or trauma, chronic illness, diagnosis of a major illness, living in isolation, a family history of suicide, previous suicide attempts, or exposure to suicide.

Now What?

Two things greatly reduce someone’s likelihood of attempting suicide: being surrounded by loving family and friends and having access to mental health counseling and medication.

Never hesitate to ask questions about someone’s symptoms of depression or suicide. Remind your loved one that depression is treatable and there’s help available. Some people just need to know someone cares about them and that they’re not alone. Knowing this can encourage them to seek the help they so desperately need.

Signs of imminent suicide require immediate intervention. Don’t leave the person’s presence, but keep them calm as you call for help from other family or friends. In the meantime, confiscate weapons or sharp objects, and work to get assistance from a mental health facility. Calling 911 or taking them to the emergency room may be necessary. The whole process may be uncomfortable, but if it saves a life, it’s worth it.