For many years, the subject of suicide was taboo. But recent events in our culture have led us as a society to realize the importance of recognizing and responding to suicidal thoughts and behavior. Oftentimes, suicidal thoughts can grow out of an overwhelming life situation that leads to feelings of helplessness, depression and anxiety. Understanding how to talk about and deal with suicidal thoughts is the first step toward preventing suicide.
Recognizing warning signs
Recognizing these warning signs in yourself or another can help identify the need to begin a conversation about depression and suicide. Doing so could save a life.
- Engaging in risky activities or self-destructive behavior
- Rage or anger
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Withdrawing from social contact
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Feeling like there is no reason to live
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood swings
Some people will not exhibit any warning signs of their intent to kill themselves before they commit suicide. Prolonged feelings of depression and anxiety can trigger suicidal thoughts. If you notice that a friend or loved one has recently experienced a significant, negative life event, encourage them to talk to you about their feelings. Let them know that you can offer emotional support without them having to ask for it.
Starting the Conversation
When talking about suicide, it’s important to be direct and use the word “suicide.” This not only ensures that both people are talking about the same thing, it also communicates to the other person that you are not afraid to have the discussion.
If you are offering support to an at-risk person, know that oftentimes people with suicidal thoughts have intense feelings of anxiety and fear that their loved ones will give up on them. There can be a sense of guilt that sharing their feelings puts a heavy burden on their loved ones. Always reassure an at-risk person that your support is unwavering and that you believe in their ability to recover. Listen without judgement and reassure them that they will get through this.
Whether you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, know that help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support to people in emotional distress (1-800-273-8255).
AdventHealth Behavioral Health is always here if you have questions or need someone to talk to. Call us at 913-789-3218.
Watch the video below to hear our Behavioral Health staff sound off about suicide prevention. Help us spread awareness by sharing this post on social media.