Warning Signs of Suicide: What to Look for

Common Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but now more than ever it is something that needs to be addressed openly and honestly. In recent times, a spate of famous people have taken their own lives, like fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. Since these shocking deaths, more and more people have been encouraging those around them to seek help if they’re struggling.

A suicidal person often does not ask for help – but that doesn’t mean help isn’t wanted or needed. Reaching out when someone is having suicidal feelings isn’t always possible. Suicide prevention in our community begins with recognition of warning signs, and that these red flags are treated seriously. If you think a loved one may be considering suicide, these are the warning signs you should look for.

Talking About Suicide

People who are thinking about suicide will often talk about it. It might not be directly stated. Instead, it could be them repeating phrases like “I wish I hadn’t been born” or “I’d be better off dead.” If someone is talking about suicide, dying, or self-harm, try talking to them before its too late. Talking to someone who is potentially suicidal can be difficult.

Seeking Out Lethal Means

If you notice your loved one is seeking out access to guns, pills, knives or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, this could be a warning sign.

Preoccupation With Death

People who are thinking about suicide tend to start focusing on death, dying, or violence. They may write poems or stories about death. They may post pictures with sad quotes about it. If you notice this, ask them what’s wrong!

No Hope for the Future

Hopelessness is a big warning sign that someone may be suicidal. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or being trapped are common in people who are having suicidal thoughts. They believe that nothing will change or get better.

Self-Hatred or Self-Loathing

If you notice someone is feeling worthless, guilt, shame, or self-hatred they may be suicidal. They may also express how they feeling like a burden, saying things like “everyone would be better off without me”.

Getting Their Affairs in Order

Often suicidal individuals will begin getting their affairs in order. Things, like making a will, giving away prized possessions, and making arrangements for dependents, is a sign that they’re planning for a future when they’re not in it.

Saying Goodbye

If you receive an unexpected call or visit it could be them saying a final goodbye. They may also express casual goodbyes in a manner that implies they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from Loved Ones

People struggling with suicidal thoughts will typically pull away from friends and family. Increased social isolation or expressing a desire to be left alone are common amongst suicidal individuals.

Self-Destructive Behavior

If someone is suicidal they may begin exhibiting self-destructive behavior. They may take unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish”. This could mean increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, or unprotected sex.

Sudden Sense of Calm

Having a sudden change in mood, going from depressed to happy and calm, is a major red flag. It can mean that they’ve made the decision to end their life, and are happy about the pain ending soon.

Conclusion

It’s important to understand that people who are suicidal don’t want to die; they just want the pain to stop. When someone is in that state of mind reaching out is difficult, nearly impossible. If you have spotted the warning signs, reach out and speak up about your concerns. It may just save them. If you would like to learn more tips or are concerned about a loved one feel free to reach out to us!

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez

DABPN, DABAM, MRO