Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States.
The rate of suicide has risen by almost 30% in the last twenty years, and it’s difficult understand why. When someone chooses to take their own life, it’s absolutely devastating to the people they leave behind. Loved ones often blame themselves and ask themselves if there were any warning signs, or what they could have done to prevent this tragic and traumatic loss of life.
It’s important to check on each other and be on the lookout for signs of depression. Whether it’s fleeting depression caused by a life event like a break up, or something more long term, there are signs that someone may be contemplating suicide.
The CDC lists these twelve “suicide warning signs”:
1. Feeling like a burden.
People who attempt suicide often feel like their friends and loved ones would be “better off without them.”
2. Being isolated.
Keep an eye out on friends who suddenly disappear from your social orbit, preferring to spend all their time alone.
3. Increased anxiety.
Anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand. Suicidal people might feel more stressed out about work, money, or relationships than they normally would.
4. Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
Sufferers of chronic pain can feel that the only way out is suicide. Similarly, feeling trapped in a situation or circumstance could lead them to look for a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
5. Increased substance use.
Hoping to dull the pain, suicidal people often numb themselves with drugs and alcohol.
6. Looking for a way to access lethal means.
Maybe they purchase a hand gun “just in case,” or perhaps they’re hoarding sleeping pills. Always be aware of a friend who’s keeping potentially lethal weapons at close hand.
7. Increased anger or rage.
People who feel hopeless often lash out in anger at everyone around them.
8. Extreme mood swings.
Extremes of mood, from happy, to angry, to sad, in a blink of an eye, should be a red flag.
9. Expressing hopelessness.
If your friend starts telling you they have lost hope and don’t know why they should bother living, take this threat seriously.
10. Sleeping too little or too much.
Sleeping too much or too little is a major sign of depression, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.
11. Talking or posting about wanting to die.
It’s hard to differentiate between someone who is testing the waters with their suicidal talk, and someone who is making idle threats for attention. Take all mentions of suicide seriously and don’t hesitate to reach out, even if you suspect it’s the latter.
12. Making plans for suicide.
Writing a suicide note or giving “last wishes” to loved ones is a big red flag.
Remember, we’re all in this together! Let your friends know you won’t ever judge them for experiencing mental health problems, and never feel silly for reaching out to a friend or loved one who shows signs like the ones above. You’ll never regret reaching out, but you might regret not reaching out.
Please seek help immediately if you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to their website. Take every hint of suicide seriously and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
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