In the forty seconds it would take you to reply to an e-mail, empty a trashcan, or plug in your cell phone, one person has committed suicide in the world. Annually, this accounts for 800,000 deaths worldwide, a number comparable to the population of San Francisco. Thoughts of suicide as well as depression and self-harm occur every day, possibly in the lives of your loved ones, coworkers, fellow students, roommates, and neighbors. Oftentimes, though warning signs may be apparent—even pronounced—we are unsure how to handle a conversation as emotionally charged and sensitive as suicide. We may question our experience or ability to say the right thing, refer the proper resource, or offer beneficial advice. Despite any apprehension you may have, offering help to someone with thoughts of suicide first begins with a knowledge of warning signs, decision to reach out, and familiarity with resources.
KNOW THE SIGNS
Understanding certain behaviors and patterns – signs and symptoms – associated with suicide is the first step to its prevention. These could be conveyed physically or verbally, as well as in a subtle or unmistakable way. Any one sign could indicate suicide risk. Here are some signs of emotional pain or suicidal thoughts that should lend to concern:
TALK of: killing themselves, being a burden, feeling worthless/purposeless, being caught in intolerable suffering
BEHAVIOR that includes: substance abuse, researching means of suicide, social withdrawal, intense aggression, isolation, recklessness
MOOD of: depression, lethargy, rage, irritability, humiliation, anxiety
*Sudden yet noticeable changes in talk, behavior, or mood of someone you believe to be experiencing suicidal thoughts are key indicators that a conversation should be had. If you are uncertain, the best way to find out it, is to ask. Continue reading