What to Look for and What to Do With Suicide
When people we know or even people in the community are having a mental health crisis and considering suicide as their only solution, we have a moral obligation to help them. One day it could be your parents, sibling, or teen who needs support. There are a number of organizations that offer things like a mental health crisis toolkit to help but more resources are needed, and more people are needed to have an impact on the staggering number of teen suicides and general suicides there is each year. Part of that education is understanding what to look for in people who may be suicidal.
Depression is a common sign
Depression is common among those who are having suicidal thoughts, though it is not a requirement. Signs of depression should not automatically be confused with signs of suicide. Feeling low, sad, withdrawn, tired but cannot sleep, restless, a decrease in appetite, and not being able to focus are signs of depression. Some signs cross over with suicide such as feeling worthless, a lack of interest in being with others, and feeling helpless and hopeless.
Health problems may contribute
Suicidal people sometimes have other health problems that are contributing to their thoughts. A chronic illness, being in pain all the time, or bouts of severe pain that come and go, in some it can lead to thoughts and talking about suicide. They might comment on wishing they had not been born, or not being able to take it anymore, or that they and others would be better off if they were dead. A mental health toolkit could help those around them to know how to respond.
A history of suicide in the family
If there is a history of suicide in the family then there is a higher risk of other family members being suicidal too. Look for help in resources like a mental health crisis toolkit and listen for them making plans, or talking about death, or wanting to organize their belongings and make arrangements for pets and such.
Look for a sudden calm
In many cases there is trouble and there are warning signs to look for, some mentioned above, and then there is a calm where you think perhaps it is over. But sometimes that calm is a sign they are no longer struggling with suicidal thoughts but have made that decision, so are feeling calmer just before they do it. They feel at peace.
On the chance that you might one day encounter someone who is suicidal as well as investing in resources like a mental health toolkit remember to take it seriously and ask them about their plan. Be open with them and listen actively and communicate with them. Do not try to handle it alone, and if they ask you to promise not to tell anyone tell them because you care you cannot make that commitment. Having professional support is going to be a key part of how you can help them.