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How to Recognize Symptoms of Suicidal Behavior

How to recognize symptoms of suicidal behavior

Recognizing the signs of suicidal behavior in someone else can help save their life.
Recognizing the signs of suicidal behavior in someone else can help save their life.

People who contemplate suicide see it as a solution to run away from the problems that seem never-ending to them. If they get help in the form of counseling and emotional support at an earlier stage, they can be saved. Some of their words and actions can give you clues if they are at risk of hurting themselves.

How do you know if someone is at risk for suicide?

Any of the major life events can trigger a suicide attempt or put a person at risk for suicide. These include

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Considerable financial loss
  • Major failure in career or exams
  • Loss of job
  • Unsuccessful attempts to get married
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Diagnosis of a major illness

People who want to kill themselves exhibit some warning signs, either through their words or actions. The more the warning signs, the greater the risk.

You can recognize suicidal behavior in a person if they talk about

  • How they are experiencing unbearable pain
  • How they feel that they have no solution to their problems
  • Their feeling of being a burden to others
  • Thoughts that they do not want to live anymore

Other changes in behavior or certain actions that you can look out for include

  • Their use of alcohol and drugs
  • They keep searching for ways over the internet to end their life
  • They start avoiding activities that they used to enjoy earlier
  • They become less concerned about how they look
  • They suddenly become calm after being depressed for a long time
  • They start distancing themselves family and friends
  • They start sleeping too much or too little
  • They start visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • They make a legal will
  • They start giving away their prized possessions
  • They become aggressive and behave recklessly
  • They look depressed all the time
  • They get irritated easily
  • They often get angry
  • They look anxious often

How do you prevent someone from committing suicide?

Sparing some of your time and confronting someone you know is thinking about suicide can save a life. Here are some ways of how you can prevent someone from committing suicide

  1. Don't hesitate to approach the person who is depressed or thinking about suicide. Remember, your inquiry about thoughts of suicide does not provoke the person to commit suicide.
  2. Rather than convincing the person out of suicide, let him or her know how depression is temporary and can be treated.
  3. Ask the person if they are seeing a psychiatrist or mental therapist for their depression and suicidal thoughts. If not, you can encourage them to seek professional help.
  4. Ask the person often about their well-being and if they want to talk about anything. Studies suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may help reduce suicidal thoughts.
  5. If you are always around that person, try to keep things that they can use to harm themselves away from them.
  6. Try to stay in touch with the person after they have been in a crisis or after being discharged from the hospital for any of their major illnesses or psychiatric conditions.

If the above attempts do not work to reduce the suicidal thoughts of the person, you can call 911 or any of the following emergency numbers

  1. The phone number of a trusted friend or relative of the person
  2. The non-emergency number for the local police department
  3. The Crisis Text Line: 741741
  4. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Reviewed on 9/2/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

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