Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
In the United States, suicide is disturbingly among the leading causes of death. According to the CDC, in 2019 alone there were 47,511 suicide deaths. Additionally, in 2020 and this current year, many individuals continue to struggle with mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suicide is tragic not only for the one whose life is cut short, but also for family members and friends left behind after a death. Knowing the warning signs and ways you can help is a start in keeping your loved ones safe.
Common suicide warning signs
There’s no single cause for suicide. Conditions like depression, anxiety, substance problems, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, losing a loved one, financial burdens, even physical illness can all increase the risk for suicide. The overriding symptom is hopelessness. People see no light at the end of the tunnel.
However, there are common warning signs to look out for:
- Talking about wanting to die or killing oneself
- Feeling like there is no reason to live
- Being in unbearable pain
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Giving away possessions
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
Talking to a loved one about suicide
Talking to a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts can be difficult. First and foremost, it important to give the person a chance to express their negative feelings as it might be able to provide some relief. Don’t judge what they have to say.
Try starting the conversation with, “I have been worried about you lately and have noticed some changes in your behavior; you don’t seem like yourself. Is something bothering you?”
Other questions you can ask are:
- When did you begin feeling like this?
- What happened that made you start feeling this way?
- How can I best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
If you or a loved one needs to talk to someone about suicide right away, call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Learn about behavioral and mental health services we offer at Mercy Health.