Taking the time to read, think, and learn about suicide can make a huge difference. The sad reality is that over 700,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And suicidal thoughts are even more common. Anyone can experience them, regardless of age, gender, or demographic. Raising awareness of suicide prevention helps save lives. In this blog post, we discuss what can cause suicidal thoughts, common warning signs of suicide, and why it is important to check in with yourself and your loved ones.
Causes of Suicidal Thoughts
There is no single cause that can lead to thoughts of suicide. In fact, many factors may lead someone to suicidal ideation. Some causes may include:
- Mental health conditions
- Substance abuse disorders
- A moment of crisis or stress
- An experience of conflict, tragedy, violence, abuse, grief, or isolation
- Being vulnerable or subject to discrimination
Whatever may cause someone’s suicidal thoughts, we can’t get help for ourselves or our loved ones without recognizing common warning signs.
Common Warning Signs of Suicide
Warning signs of suicide could take so many forms, but some of the common signs include:
- Excessive mood swings
- Aggressive, impulsive, and/or reckless behavior
- Isolating oneself from friends and family
- Increased substance abuse
- Seeking means to self-harm
- Talking, joking, or posting online about dying or life not being worth living
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or of being a burden to others
- Extreme sadness, anger, or irritability
- Researching ways to die
If you notice someone doing any of these following actions, call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
- Preparing for a way to commit suicide (Storing pills, buying a weapon, etc.)
- Giving away belongings
- Getting their affairs in order (paying off debts, creating a will, etc.)
- Saying goodbye to loved ones
Suicidal thoughts can come in many different shapes and forms, and everyone shows these symptoms in their own way. It is crucial to take the signs of suicide seriously and to know that help is available.
If You Know Someone Who Is Showing Warning Signs of Suicide:
If you know someone who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts or ideation, even if suicide isn’t an immediate threat, it is time to act. Here are some ways to act that could help:
- Talk to them. Ask them about what they are going through. Listen attentively and patiently. Do not interrupt. Be supportive in your responses, and don’t place any blame.
- Encourage and help them seek treatment. Sometimes, someone may need the encouragement of a friend to get mental health treatment. Help them through the process of finding what they need, whether that is a therapist or psychiatrist or maybe a local support group. The process itself can be stressful and overwhelming, and they might not even have the energy to go through it. Having your support could make it significantly easier.
- Tell them that things will get better. With the appropriate treatment or support, they don’t have to struggle with the pain they are currently experiencing. There is hope.
- Don’t promise to keep their suicidal thoughts secret. It is important to be supportive and understanding but let them know that you will seek help if you think their life is in danger.
- Suggest that they avoid substances. Consuming drugs or alcohol may help them find relief at the moment, but it could also lead to them feeling more depressed or behaving in dangerous or risky ways. Avoiding drugs and alcohol during this time is best.
- If possible, remove dangerous items from their possession. If they are willing, remove any sort of item or weapon that could be used to attempt suicide. This includes any sort of knives, razors, guns, or drugs. If they have medication that they have to take regularly but could be used to commit suicide, see if they would be interested in having someone else protect it and give it to them when prescribed.
How To Help Yourself If You’re Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts:
While it is important to check on your loved ones, it is also just as important to check in with yourself. If you feel that depression or suicidal thoughts are causing you to struggle, reach out to those around you as well as a professional to get the help you need. You deserve to be helped and cared for. What you are feeling is not forever. Relief, and even joy, are obtainable.
Suicide is preventable. Help is available. If you or a friend are in need of mental health treatment, we are here for you. Contact us today to get the help you deserve. If you or a friend are experiencing a crisis, please call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or 911 for any pressing medical emergencies.