Learning The Warning Signs Of Suicide by Melissa Howard

Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death among Canadians, and a recent survey revealed that of the 1,319 teens polled, 22 percent had seriously considered taking their life sometime in the past 12 months. Contrary to what many people think, the majority of people with a mental illness do not die by suicide — yet of those who do die from the act, 90 percent have a diagnosable mental illness. Regardless of age, sex, or mental stability, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, make sure you know the key warning signs so the person in question (even yourself) can get help. 

There’s Already An Existing Substance Abuse Issue

Suicide is the leading cause of death among those with a substance abuse disorder. Alcohol is present in approximately 30-40 percent of all suicides and attempts, and drugs, 41 percent. One of the explanations as to why there’s such a strong tie between the two is that those with a substance abuse problem are usually severely depressed — one of the main triggers of suicide. In this case, before getting help for suicide, the person needs to get help for their substance abuse problem in order to avoid a vicious cycle. Aside from addiction, other risk factors include: 

●     History of previous suicide attempts

●     Easy access to lethal methods

●     Family history of suicide

●     History of depression or other mental illness

●     History of alcohol or drug abuse

●     Stressful life event or loss 

●     History of violence

Key Warning Signs

Note that not everyone exhibits each of these signs, but they are all good indicators that someone is having suicidal thoughts. 

●     Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

●     Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

●     Displaying extreme mood swings

●     Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

●     Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain

●     Talking about being a burden to others

●     Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself

●     Looking for a way to kill oneself

●     Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless

●     Sleeping too little or too much

●     Withdrawing or feeling isolated

●     Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

●     Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain

●     Talking about being a burden to others.

Signs That You Need To Call 911 Or A Local Suicide Emergency Service

There are more direct signs that someone isn’t just having suicidal thoughts; they may be ready to commit the act. Don’t wait to seek help for an individual who exhibits any of the following: 


●     You detect that someone is heavily researching/plotting ways to execute a suicide — maybe even purchasing a weapon or some other means of hurting him/herself. 

●     Someone is threatening to hurt or kill themselves.

●     You notice out of character behavior like posting about death and suicide on social media. 


Realize Suicide Can Be Prevented

Many people are uncomfortable with suicide, which is one of the reasons why there’s little discussion about it. Lack of conversation only hinders prevention. Researchers have shown that there are some key factors that can help prevent suicide: 

●     Problem solving skills, conflict resolution, and other nonviolent ways of handling disputes

●     Clinical care for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders

●     Family and community support 

●     Cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support seeking help

While everyone gets depressed or has a bad day or week, the signs of suicide are more severe and should not be ignored. If you’re confronting someone, be prepared that he/she may not be ready to accept getting help right away. On the flip side, if you’re the one considering taking your life, don’t try to sweep these thoughts under the carpet -- seek help immediately.  

Article written by: Melissa Howard who is on a mission to prevent suicide through her website and insight on www.stopsuicide.info.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Meg Stevenson