Understanding and recognising the warning signs of depression and suicidal behaviour are helpful in preventing suicide. The following answers to important questions can help you understand suicide and take steps to stop it.
How do you know someone might be suicidal?
- You may hear them say statements like: “I wish I was never born.”, “Your life would be so much better without me.” & “I feel like I’m just taking up space.”
- If hearing such statements worries you, it should. These sentiments are warning signs that a person is thinking about suicide, also called suicidal ideation.
- Though these are passive suicidal statements, they should be taken very seriously. They may mean a person is thinking about ending his or her life. This person is struggling with a mental health crisis and we need to attend to this.
- Even passive thoughts of suicide deserve prompt attention. Respond immediately. To know better what to make of the statements you just heard, ask more questions.
What behaviors are warning signs for suicide?
- Some people may keep their thoughts and plans for suicide to themselves, which makes helping them very difficult.
- However, those considering suicide sometimes show signs that they are thinking, preparing, or seeking the means to carry it out. Suicide warning signs (adapted from helpguide.org) include: Appearing agitated, anxious, irritable, Becoming extremely sensitive and strongly reactive to criticism, Talking, writing, journaling or joking about suicide, Making statements like “I’d be better off dead”, Withdrawing from activities or friends, Gathering special items to give friends or family, Saying what sounds like a final goodbye & Seeking out the means to kill themselves – a weapon, substance, or dangerous location.
If a person seems troubled, is it safe to ask if they are thinking about hurting themselves? Can asking increase the danger of suicide?
- It is a myth that asking questions will increase the chance people will harm themselves. Asking questions shows you care.
- One of the most important things you can offer — as a therapist, family member, bystander or friend — is living proof that someone cares.
- People start thinking of suicide when they feel hopeless and alone in their struggle. They do not see a way out. Telling them they are not alone — and really meaning it — is huge. They desperately need someone to care.