Admitting that a loved one may be struggling with thoughts of suicide can be extremely difficult. Accepting that your loved one is facing this crisis is the first step to providing them with the help they need.
Suicide is a major public health issue in the United States. Each year, there are over 40,000 people that die from suicide, and that rate just continues to increase. In 2016, the CDC released data showing that suicide in the USA had reached a 30-year high and the increasing suicide rates and “deaths of despair” by drug or alcohol overdose have led to a decline in the United States’ predicted life expectancy.
Suicide in itself is not a mental illness, but it can be a potential outcome of many mental illnesses and disorders, with depression being the highest risk. Suicide rates are highest among teens, the elderly, and young adults, with people over the age of 65 being the most likely to commit suicide. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to succeed. This is due to male suicide attempts often being more violent and often involve guns, which often means their suicide attempts are more likely to be successful.
Who is most likely to commit suicide?
People most likely to commit suicide are often struggling with a mental disorder or have an exacerbating factor in their life leading them to consider suicide. Elderly people who have lost a spouse through death or divorce, for example, are much more likely to commit suicide.
Here is a brief list of other people who may be at risk of attempting suicide:
- Those who have attempted suicide in the past
- People with a traumatic history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- People who work as first responders, such as police officers or firefighters
- Those inclined towards violent or impulsive behavior
- People who have lost a loved one to suicide
- Those who struggle with substance abuse issues
- People with a disabling, terminal, or long-term illness
- Those recently released from a psychiatric facility
- Those struggling with a mental disorder
While there are other people who may commit or attempt suicide, this list may arm you with the means to identify people in your life that may be at risk.
What are the signs that someone might be suicidal?
If you are worried that someone you know or love may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s important to identify it so that you can provide them with the support or intervention they need. Here are six common signs that people may display if they are planning a suicide attempt.
- A diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression
While not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression will try to hurt themselves, these two mental disorders in particular greatly increase a person’s chance of struggling with suicidal thoughts. Both these disorders pose a higher risk of suicide and can lead people to attempt or complete suicide if they do not have proper support systems and care in place. Many people with depression or bipolar disorder may also suffer from other suicide risks, such as substance abuse issues, impulse control, or have a history of trauma.
- Sudden calmness
If someone you know has been deeply depressed or extremely moody but has suddenly become very calm and uninterested in discussing their feelings further, this could be a sign that a person has decided to end their life. Of course, before jumping to any conclusions you should confirm that the person has not started successful treatment of their depression symptoms and is actually recovering.
Another sign that someone may be considering ending their life is extreme withdrawal and isolation. Feelings of self-loathing or low self-worth that accompany depression or depressive episodes can make people feel as though the people in their lives want nothing to do with them. This may lead them to withdraw or even push people away so as not to become a burden. This behavior is often a Catch-22 for sufferers since it’s at this point that they actually need the most support.
- Making preparations
Oftentimes a person who is considering suicide will start to make preparations by putting their personal business in order. They may start to reach out to people to find closure and start to five away possessions that are precious to them. They may put pets they love up for adoption, make a will, or purge things from their home and clean. If you notice these behaviors in someone who has been despondent and unwilling to care for themselves or their home, it may mean they’re at risk for suicide.
- Worsening substance abuse issues
Substance abuse issues do not always mean a person is at risk of committing suicide, however, the reasons for substance abuse issues can often be traced to the same pre-cursors that could lead a person to suicide. If someone you know has recently started to struggle more with their substance abuse issues or to behave more erratically or impulsively with a substance, this could be an ideal time to sit them down and talk to them about rehabilitation centers like Harris House. This can be a difficult conversation and shouldn’t be something you embark on by yourself. Enlist other friends and family and don’t guilt or attack the person. We can promise you that they’re feeling plenty guilty without any added shame from those they love.
- Threatening suicide
50-to-75% of people considering suicide will tell a friend or loved one before they attempt it. These warning signs are not subtle and are often statements like: “I don’t want to be here anymore”, “I’m tired of this”, or “I’m done”. People who are considering suicide often want help and want people to stop them but are unable to express that. Sometimes, people may make statements like this for months and you may become used to hearing them by the time an attempt occurs. If you hear something like this, take them seriously and don’t withdraw—even if the statement makes you scared or sad. This is when they need you most.
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Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.