Suicide is a topic that many people dislike talking about, but with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021 among ages 10-14 and 20-34 it is a topic that needs to be discussed more openly. It is impossible to know what is fully going on in other person’s head, though recognizing and speaking up that someone in your life may be contemplating suicide could potentially help save their life.
Common Warning Signs
- Wanting to die
- Guilt or shame
- Being a burden to others
- Empty, hopeless, worthless, trapped, or having no reason to live
- Extreme sadness, anxiety, agitation, rage, or aggression
- Unbearable emotional or physical pain
Changing behavior, such as:
- Making a plan or researching ways to die, such as how to buy a gun or obtain dangerous medication
- Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family; spending more time alone than usual
- Saying goodbye, giving away personal possessions, creating a will, or trying to “get their affairs in order”
- Behaving recklessly or taking more dangerous risks than usual
- Showing signs of despair or extreme mood swings
- Eating or sleeping more or less than usual
- Using drugs or alcohol excessively
- Has attempted suicide in the past or demonstrated suicidal behavior
Recognizing these warning signs in a loved one can be extremely frightening. You may be unsure of whether this talk or suicide should be taken seriously or if getting involved might potentially make the situation worse. When in doubt, take action. Taking action is always the best choice, even if the risk of imminent death appears low. You will never put the idea in someone’s head by asking about it, but you may help give them the relief they need by listening. When people talk about it, they can feel less alone. Start by asking questions. Find out whether the individual is in immediate danger of acting on their thoughts. Asking someone about their thoughts and feelings around suicide WILL NOT push them into suicide. Be straightforward. Ask questions like:
- Are you thinking about dying?
- Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
- Are you thinking about suicide?
- Do you have access to weapons or things you can use as weapons?
If you are able to determine that the individual is in danger of acting on their thoughts of suicide take immediate action:
- Get help from a trained professional as quickly as possible. They may need to stay in the hospital until the immediate crisis has passed
- Urge the individual to contact a suicide hotline (you can call a suicide hotline on someone’s behalf)
If the individual has attempted suicide and you need help immediately:
- Do not leave the person alone
- Call 911 or your local emergency number. Or if you believe you can do it safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency department
- Tell a trusted family member or friend what’s going on
Suicide has been a growing problem in the U.S. over the last several years and unfortunately, these warning signs often go unnoticed until it is too late. Be aware of these warning signs and remember that help is available at all hours of the day and night for those who are having suicidal thoughts or contemplating suicide. Above all, offer help and be a listening ear for those in need of support. Suicide is often preventable. Reach out, save a life.
If you or a loved one are struggling and in need of support and are NOT in immediate danger reach out to us at (816) 287-0252 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today.
Dial 911 if immediate assistance in needed
Missouri Crisis Hotline: 888-761-4357
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or Text 988, Chat at 988lifeline.org
Crisis Text Line: Text “Hello” to 741741
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/in-depth/suicide/art-20044707
National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Warning Signs of Suicide. www.nimh.nih.gov. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide