One of the main challenges with suicide is that those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts may feel shame or guilt about those thoughts, making them unwilling to confide in others until it is too late for an outside observer to tell those who are experiencing suicide ideation that their thoughts of worthlessness, sadness, or the idea that people would be better off without them are not true.
This is not possible when those thoughts are missed. Instead of expecting clear statements of intent, watching for these particular signs can potentially indicate that a loved one or friend is having suicidal thoughts and give you the ability to help.
Identifying When Someone is at Risk of Committing Suicide
Intervention when you suspect that someone may be considering taking their own life is often one of the most effective ways of preventing suicide. Because there is often confusion around the idea, is important to know that speaking with someone about suicide is unlikely to increase their risk. Instead, being able to reassure them they are appreciated and valued can be extremely powerful.
This is why it is worthwhile to know the various signs of suicidal thoughts and take action if you have reason to suspect someone is in danger:
- Talking About It – A person thinking about suicide may mention feeling hopeless, worthless, or like they are a burden. They may express a feeling of being trapped or in pain that will not end. They may also frequently talk about death or killing themselves, even in a joking way.
- Changing Moods – Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. A person could also display shame, guilt, irritability, or anger due to suicidal thoughts. Rapid and unexplained recovery from a low mood can also be a sign that someone is potentially considering suicide.
- Behaviors – Behaviors associated with depression such as withdrawal from favorite activities and family, fatigue, and changes in appetite are often a sign that someone needs help. A person specifically considering suicide may research possible methods, or start giving away prized possessions or saying goodbye. They may also engage in reckless behaviors such as excessive drinking, drug use, or risk taking.
If you have concerns about immediate risks for yourself or for a friend, contact a crisis line or emergency services. For someone who may not be at immediate risk but for whom you are still concerned, encourage them to reach out and get help. You could also let them know that they have your support and that you want to see them get better. Knowing how to support a loved one dealing with depression can be helpful as well.
For treatment for suicidal thoughts in Dallas or Fort Worth, Aware Behavioral Health provides services for adults and teenagers to help promote recovery and mental wellness. If you have a teenager or are struggling with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or other mental health concerns, reach out to us.