Suicide Warning Signs: (SAMHSA)
- “Talking about wanting to die or about killing themselves” is one of the most obvious warnings. However, suicide ideation is a warning sign that tends to go unnoticed or is easily brushed off by an observer. This is when a person talks about how it would just be better if they did not exist anymore. It can be in the form of not seeing a need to eat, talking of being completely alone, low self- esteem, or sudden resurgence of fulfilling past goals.
- “Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.” This can also include stockpiling pills, alcohol, or other chemicals that could be used by the individual to use for an overdose. A sudden interest in bladed weapons or a fixation with cutting oneself.
- “Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.” Other warning signs can be seen in excessive spending when they would normally be responsible with their money. This is a sure sign that the person is seeing no reason to live and might as well spend it while they can.
- “Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.” This is one that can be most difficult as those suffering from physical illnesses can at times be in truly unbearable pain. This can also leave them feeling trapped in a body that is failing them. This also can tie into the person feeling like they are too much of a burden on others, another warning sign that people should look for.
- “Displaying extreme mood swings.” This can vary from being extremely anxious or agitated to behaving recklessly when normally the person displays caution. Other signs can be extreme depression, manic episodes, and bouts of rage. It is during these mood swings that a person can feel the need to take their life without any other warning to end the rapidly changing emotions and moods.
This has always been a hard subject for me as I use to suffer from BPD (Border-line Personality Disorder) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). When I was 14, I was raped, beaten, and left for dead. I was very fortunate to have been found by a forest ranger or I would have died. However, after several weeks in the hospital I was informed I had contracted HIV from one of the men that had raped me. I have spent much of my life battling deep depression and extreme mood swings and personality shifts. I did attempt suicide several times, nearly succeeding. When I started working on the Crisis Response section it was strange to read all the signs of suicide, crisis, and distress as it was much of what I went through.
The thing that kept me going was having someone there to talk to. When no one was personally available I would reach out to a national hotline and local free counseling agency/support groups.
As for what I would do to help a person I see showing warning sign of suicide, I would first of all talk with them not to them. I learned from personal experience when someone confronted me I simply withdrew or became confrontational. When they were ‘just there’ to talk I was able to open up much more. When the person decided to open up, I would listen to what they had to say. I would then ask what was happening in his or her life that was triggering such feelings and emotions. From there I would offer to help them find a place they felt safe to seek help or treatment. It is always important to have an available support system for those in need when it comes to this kind of crisis or at the very least know all the available options in the local area. I would make sure the person knew I would be there should they need someone to talk with but encourage the person to reach out to others such as a counselor, other Priests, family members, or friends. I would make sure he or she was well aware of any hotline which they could use should no one be available to speak with in person for some reason. I would not push too hard because that can be worse than not trying at all. However, I would keep in regular contact to make sure the person knew I cared. Sometimes just knowing that there is a network of people reaching out to you in the gloom of the pain can help pull you back from the brink of destruction. If the person showed any signs of escalation I would make sure that others around him or her such as a partner & fellow Grove mates knew the warning signs so emergency help could be reached immediately if it was needed and NOT just brush it off as attention seeking.