There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Fortunately there are some common warning signs which, when acted upon, can save lives. Here are some to look for:
- Isolation; withdrawing from family or friends
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Depressed, sad, angry, aggressive
- Job or financial loss
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Self-mutilation (i.e., cutting)
- Loss of interest in activities/hobbies
- Perfectionism or overly self-critical
Urgent Warning Signs
- Puts one’s affairs in order — giving away possessions
- Talking, writing or hinting about suicide
- Lethargy, apathy or sadness
- Extreme changes in behavior
- Hopelessness or helplessness
- Relationship breakup
- Buys gun or weapon or stock piles drugs
- Suddenly happier and calmer — giving the impression that things have improved
Myths and Stigmas
“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”
Almost everyone who takes their own life or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
“Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.”
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken,depressed or despairing. Extreme distress and emotional pain are always signs of mental illness but are not signs of psychosis.
“If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.”
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, and most waiver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to end their pain. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
“People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.”
Studies of adult suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help within six months before their death and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.
“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”
You don’t give a suicidal person ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true – bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.