But suicide is preventable. You need to know the risk factors and warning signs that can help you save the lives of your loved ones – or yourself.
Learn The Warning Signs
There are many causes that can lead a person to commit suicide. However, there are red flags that you may witness just before a person attempts the act. Keep in mind that you’re looking for patterns, not isolated incidents. If you suspect someone is at risk, pay attention to the following:
- What They Say
People who are suicidal may talk about killing themselves but there are also more subtle comments. For example, they may talk about being a burden to others. Listen for an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
- What They Do
Risky behaviors can include buying weapons, increased substance use and spending too much time sleeping. Are you suddenly having a hard time getting in touch with this person? Isolation and withdrawal are often signs that something is wrong.
- How They Feel
Depression, despair and rage can be clues, too. Learn more detailed warning signs in this article from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Are You In A High-Risk Group?
Certain people may be more likely to attempt suicide. High-risk groups include:
- People with suicide in their family history.
- Someone who has recently experienced a traumatic event or life-changing loss.
- People with a substance use disorder.
- Those who suffer from clinical depression.
- People with serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses.
- Young adults and teens.
According to the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, suicide is “the second leading cause of death for adults ages 25-34, and the third leading cause for youth ages 15-24.” For young people, additional risk factors, such as self-mutilation or fighting can be a sign. Kids who are bullied are also vulnerable. See a complete list of risk factors for youth in this article at The Jason Foundation.
Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder
When a person with a substance use disorder is also suffering from a mental health disorder, it is critical that they carefully manage both disorders to ensure that a relapse from one to the other does not occur. Once both disorders are fully active, the person’s condition can turn life-threatening.
Engaging in a recovery program is critical as is working with a therapist to address both issues. An inpatient treatment facility may be beneficial. Twenty-four hour care can keep the patient safe while they progress through recovery. This article from the National Institute on Drug Abuse has more information on the types of treatment programs that are available.
How can you prevent a suicide from occurring? You need to take action as soon as possible.
Get help now
If you are feeling suicidal or you think your loved one is at danger right now, don’t hesitate. Get help immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE or chat directly on their website.
If you or your loved one is not in crisis at the moment, you can still take action. Therapy and counseling are critical in helping work through these issues. If there are substance abuse issues, a recovery program is necessary.
The most important thing anyone at risk of suicide needs is support. Be sure to be there for your friend or family member to help them through this crisis. If you are the one at risk, engage with loved ones, support groups or clergy to get help. There are many resources that can help you, but you must take the first step.