There are several warning signs that indicate that a friend might be suicidal.
- Intense emotional pain is an indicator.
- They may take certain actions that indicate an attempt is a possibility.
- They may talk directly or indirectly about killing themselves.
- Some groups have been identified at higher risk because of their life circumstances.
- There are places to go and things to do to help.
When a friend is suicidal, they are often in intense emotional turmoil and simply want the pain to stop. They may seem depressed or confused and act in a way that suggests they'd rather not go on living. Some signs to look for are...
The Suicidal Person:
- Hopeless and Helpless
- May Not Seem Logical
- Ambivalence (experiencing contradictory feelings like hope and hoplessness)
- Emotional Isolation
- Depressed and Lost
- Guilt: Rejection/shame, Self-punishment, Loss of self-esteem
- Fear: Distress, leading to terror, and completely overwhelmed
- Anger: Anger and depression so closely related and lead to suicidal behaviour. Anger is a continuum that begins with hurt
Non-verbal warning signs may be:
- Isolating self, withdrawing from others
- Sudden Changes In Behaviour
- Preparing For Death
- Writing and drawing that shows suicidal intention
- Collecting Means To Attempt Suicide
- Over Use of Drugs And Alcohol
- Previous Attempts - by themselves or someone close to them
- Talking directly about killing themselves
- Talking indirectly about it, but intention can be spotted
- "I'm nothing but a burden to my familyâ€
- "They're so cruel to me. They'll be sorry some day."
- "Nothing will ever change, will it?"
- "Do you think there is any life after death?"
- "You'd look after my wife if anything happened to me, wouldnt you?"
- Making very thorough efforts to get affairs in order (if this is done with a sense of urgency, or by a depressed person)
- Writing a lot of letters at once to everyone who is significant in their lives (where this is out of character, or seen as important to complete without delay)
- Not wanting to look ahead, or talk about the future
- A sudden surge of energy and apparent sense of peace in someone who has been extremely depressed or distressed. (it may mean they have decided on a plan.)
- Any stockpiling of medication, either by holding back on prescribed doses, or obtaining medication from more than one source
- Giving away valuable possessions (particularly applicable in the young)
- Running food supplies down to nothing (in depressed people living alone)
- Terminally ill
- Persons who have experienced loss/stress
- Survivors of persons who have committed suicide
- Depressed persons, (when depression begins to lift.)
- Alcoholics, drug takers/addicts
- Policeman, physicians, dentists
- Minority groups
The next step is practical support and it is available.
Link to "Risk Factors" here
Where Do You Go?
- Friends - friendship, support and people that will listen is important
- Groups to which they belong - may provide a network of help
- A GP can find resources and make referrals effectively
- Hospital - if you percieve an immediate strong risk of attempted suicide
- Minister or a church - may provide a network of help or counsellors
- Citizens Advice Bureau - they know of community groups, counsellors and other help
- A phone counsellor - listed in the front of your local phone book. Try mental health listings
- Visit a counsellor - make the urgency clear to the phone receptionist and ask for other options if they are fully booked
- Phone a suicide prevention/support group - SPINZ, Yellow Ribbon and Project Hope will all talk to you and point you to ongoing help. See contact details in our organisations section: link here