Struggling with suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone who is feeling depressed or feeling overwhelmed by grief, loss, financial burdens, relationship problems, health issues or other life circumstances. What’s always important to remember is that depression can be treated, and there is support to help you or someone you love overcome life’s struggles and renew hope. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength.
It’s also important to be aware of the many myths surrounding suicide in those who may be contemplating it. For example, a suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help is not wanted. People who want to take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Another myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it. Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide, even if it is mentioned jokingly.
Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
Don’t ignore the warning signs
If you or a friend is experiencing the warning signs below, it’s important to get help right away. The first step is to talk to a counselor. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or call 911.
Don’t delay getting help if you or a friend is experiencing any of the following:
- Talking or writing about suicide, including hints like “You’ll be better off without me”
- Withdrawal from friends or family, saying or feeling things like, “They just don’t understand me”
- Expressing hopelessness, ongoing sadness, rage, revenge or feeling trapped, worthless or guilty
- A painful life event such as the loss of a relationship
- Changes in behavior including disinterest in pleasurable activities, giving away prized possessions
- Taking action such as seeking access to a weapon, pills or other means to harm oneself
Don’t wait to get help for depression
Even if you have a blue mood that seems to linger, or you feel continually anxious or overwhelmed, there are professionals who can help you turn things around. Talking to a mental health counselor through a community service or your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you with ways to manage your moods and feel more in control of your life. Joining a mental health support group can also help you with coping strategies and give you an opportunity to feel connected to others who truly understand.
To find a support group in your area, visit the National Association of Mental Illness website or call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).