Suicide Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Trigger warning: Information presented in this article discusses suicide, which may be triggering to some people. If you notice you or your loved ones exhibit such behaviour, please know there are helpful resources to support you.

Are you concerned that a loved one may be suicidal? Do you notice that they behave quite differently than normal after a painful event? 

A person’s words and actions can give clues that they are distressed and contemplating suicide. Let’s delve into some of suicide warning signs that you should not ignore:

  1. Drugs or alcohol abuse 

Have you ever noticed your loved one gulping down that bottle of liquor every day since the death of his parents? Or have you ever heard the story of your good friend who abuses drugs to cope with her everyday life?

Abusing use of drugs or alcohol is a warning sign of suicide. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that there are multiple reasons people started taking drugs, such as feeling pleasure, numbing their feelings, improving performance, or solely because of curiosity and peer pressure. Lynch et al. (2020) conducted a case-control study in which substance use disorders were associated with an increased relative suicide risk for women and men across all categories, with the relative risk for women being greater.

  1. Visiting or calling people to say goodbye 

Have you ever received a visit from a loved one trying to bid you goodbye? Perhaps when your loved one visits you, he asks for your forgiveness out of the blue. Maybe their way of bidding goodbye can be indirect, where they may be travelling with you to a place that both of you wanted to visit. Therefore, if you find that your loved one is visiting you and suddenly calling you to say goodbye, this should ring a bell that your loved one is contemplating suicide.  

  1. Talking about being a burden to everyone 

When you are conversing with your loved ones, are they confessing about being a burden to everyone? No matter how many positive things and compliments you give them, they still feel that their existence is causing problems for others. Because they think their condition is too emotionally intense, they believe that everyone would be better off without them. 

  1. Isolating oneself

Have you noticed your loved ones have been isolating themselves too much? They always refuse whenever you ask them to join you for an outdoor activity. You find this is quite odd because normally, they would be the ones to say yes to the invitation. This sense of isolation is strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. 

  1. Extreme mood swings 

Has your loved one switched from extremely happy to extremely depressed frequently?  

Sometimes you can feel sad while other times you can feel happy. It’s perfectly normal. As long as you don’t let your mood changes impair your daily life to a great extent, they are generally considered healthy. In contrast, if your loved ones have rapid mood changes, it might indicate that they are suicidal. 

  1. Sleeping too little or too much 

Do you notice a change in the sleep pattern of your loved ones? Someone’s sleep patterns change when they are depressed or suicidal. A suicidal person may sleep more than normal, barely getting out of bed. Insomnia makes them stay up until all hours, and they are tired the next day as a result.

Final thoughts 

If anyone you know demonstrates any of these signs, you are not powerless to do anything.   People may worry that they will push the idea into their heads if they ask about suicide. However, showing someone you care won’t make them think of suicide. Providing an opportunity for suicidal people to express their feelings can relieve loneliness and pent-up negative feelings and prevent suicide attempts.

If you find yourself or your loved ones exhibiting such signs, please do reach out to a mental health professional for help. You can also contact the following suicide hotlines: 

America: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Canada: 1-866-531-2600

Australia: 13 11 14

United Kingdom: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90

Malaysia: 03-76272929

Beijing: 0800-810-1117

Hong Kong: +852 28 960 000

Japan/Tokyo: 81 (0) 3 5286 9090

Brazil: 55 11 31514109 or (91) 3223-0074

Mexico: 9453777

Germany: 0800 111 0 111

Russia: (495) 625 3101

India: 91-22-27546669

Iran: 1480

South Africa: 0800 12 13 14

REFERENCES 

American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). What is a substance use disorder? What Is Addiction? Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Angers, L. (2021, December 1). Feeling like a burden? what it means and how to overcome it. BetterHelp. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/rejection/feeling-like-a-burden-what-it-means-and-how-to-overcome-it/

Lynch, F. L., Peterson, E. L., Lu, C. Y., Hu, Y., Rossom, R. C., Waitzfelder, B. E., Owen-Smith, A. A., Hubley, S., Prabhakar, D., Keoki Williams, L., Beck, A., Simon, G. E., & Ahmedani, B. K. (2020). Substance use disorders and risk of suicide in a general US population: a case control study. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13722-020-0181-1

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