Recognizing Signs of Suicide in a Loved One

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, which makes it the optimal time to talk about suicide prevention and bring awareness to suicide. Suicide is the number one form of injury-related death and among the most common causes of death. So, it’s important to understand the severity of this issue and how common it really is. If you have a loved one who has previous or present issues with depression, it is a good idea to be more aware of signs of suicide. This way, you can understand how to find help for depression before suicide occurs.

Some of the signs and symptoms of suicide to watch out for in a loved one may include:

Talking About or Glorifying Suicide

One of the most common signs that someone is thinking about suicide is that they are talking about it openly. This could mean they have been thinking about it for a while and may even be planning it. Another sign is that they are glorifying suicide, otherwise called suicidal ideation. They may say things like “suicide is the only way out” or that not being alive may solve their problems. They may also glorify or praise people who have already committed suicide.

If someone you love who is struggling with depression openly talks to you about wanting to commit suicide or their suicidal ideation, ask them if they have been considering suicide themselves. And, ask them if they are planning to commit suicide. Having this open conversation won’t make your loved one more likely to commit suicide, rather, it will allow them to open up about it with you so that you can provide them with help if they are willing. If your loved one is planning suicide, you can then ask them what means they intend to use to commit suicide, whether it’s by weapon, pills, etc. In some cases, you can use this information to remove a means of suicide or ask your loved one to remove the means themselves. Finally, if you are speaking about suicide with a loved one who is considering it, you can ask them to call you if they are ever seriously considering suicide in a time of crisis. This will give you the opportunity to reach out for help and prevent a suicidal attempt in this situation.

Being open and honest about suicide with a loved one who is considering suicide or experiencing suicidal thoughts can help them trust you in times of crisis. This way, you can better be prepared to help and offer support in order to prevent a suicide attempt. So, try to be supportive and actively listen to your loved one rather than judge them for having these thoughts.

Identifying Suicidal Behavior

While you may get a feel for how a loved one feels about suicide by what they say, some people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts may not open up about them at all. In this case, it’s important to identify behaviors that may point to suicidal thoughts and ideation. Some examples of this would be self-harm (cutting or burning oneself) or self-damaging behaviors like drinking and using drugs excessively. Other behaviors that may indicate suicidal thoughts can include withdrawing from friends and family, not participating in previously enjoyed activities, and apathy.

Help for People Showing Suicidal Signs

If you’re a person who is struggling with thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideation, help for depression through treatment is available. If you have a loved one who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation, ask them if they would be willing to receive this kind of help. Depression treatment can provide individuals with a safe place to dive into issues that may be leading to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. And, provide individuals with coping mechanisms and effective treatments to battle these thoughts and behaviors to establish a life of mental well-being.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


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