suicide | self-harm
WHAT IS SUICIDE?
Suicide is the taking of one's own life. A suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves to try to end their life, but they do not die.
Suicide is a major public health problem and one of the major leading causes of death in the United States. The effects of suicide go beyond the person who acts to take his or her life. It can also have a lasting effect on family, friends, and communities.
It can be really difficult to identify if someone is considering suicide or harming themselves. Many people either can’t or don’t tell others when they’re having thoughts about ending their life. If you’re worried about a loved one's mental health or wellbeing, here are some ways to tell if they may be at risk of suicide, as well as tips on how you can be there for them.
What are the signs that someone may be at risk of suicide?
There can be changes in the way a person acts or talks about their life that may be warning signs they are at risk of suicide.
Changes in the way a person speaks about their life might include:
describing their situation as hopeless.
talking as if they don't have a future.
saying they are worthless or a burden to others.
talking more about death, or about not wanting to live.
Changes in the way a person acts might include:
Wanting to be alone, rather than to hang out with friends or family.
Seeming sad or low most of the time.
Taking less care with their appearance and grooming (e.g. not showering).
Putting themselves in dangerous situations, especially in a way that's unusual for them, including use of drugs and alcohol.
Eating differently (e.g. a lot less, or a lot more) and rapid changes in weight.
Being distracted or unable to concentrate.
Being irritable or angry.
Having problems with falling asleep.
Giving away things that are important to them.
What can I do if I notice some of these signs?
Although you might feel out of your depth, you can say and do things to support your friend. You don't need to be an expert to make a difference.
Call a helpline to get some back-up
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
OR text GO to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor through Crisis Text Line.
Contact emergency services at 911 if you're worried about the person's safety.
Be a non-judgmental, sympathetic listener. People who have struggled with suicidal thoughts say that it helps when their friends and family ask about how they are feeling and the listen without judging them or telling them how to fix the problem. If you've noticed any of the warning signs above, you could mention this in your conversation.
Being there for a friend who is thinking about suicide can make a big difference to them. Most people recover their sense of hope through the combined support of family, friends and mental health professionals. Helping a person to feel safe within the community of people caring for them is an important step towards recovery. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of family, friends and professionals, many people still die by suicide. If you're grieving after a suicide, you can find more support here. If you're struggling with the suicide of a loved one, it's important to reach out for support.