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Suicide Warning Signs
Although suicide may occur without warning, if you know and act on suicide warning signs, you may save someone's life. This article explains the suicide warning signs and which ones may be signs of something other than a potential suicide.
If you are concerned about someone's safety right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.
Sometimes, a situation suddenly develops that a person finds unbearable, and the person chooses to act on his or her immediate thoughts. In this, and some other types of cases, there may not be a warning of suicide. This could happen in response to being fired, death of a loved one, or some other deeply painful or traumatic event, for example.
But in many cases, according to experts, those considering suicide do exhibit warning signs, some more clearly connected to suicide than others. As well as there being some warning signs that are or may be connected to suicide, suicide has been linked to mental health issues and substance abuse. We'll talk about these in order.
Explicit Suicide Warning Signs
Explicit suicide warning signs include the situation in which a person threatens to kill him or herself. In addition to being a real threat, this may also be a very disturbing exhibition of manipulation, for example, if someone were to say, "if you leave me, I'll kill myself." However, if you hear something like this, do not stop to consider what the motivation is: call for help immediately.
A person could also mention hurting or killing him- or herself without it being a threat. Again, no matter the possible causes, help should be sought immediately.
Another explicit sign could be a focus on death or suicide in speech or writing, but only in the case that this is not usual for the person doing so. For example, a police officer, a forensic anthropologist, a hospice worker, or a psychologist conducting research on death and dying would all be expected to reflect on death, as might a person who had just experienced the death of a loved one. However, a tween girl who hasn't experienced a death in her immediate circle would not. If you are concerned about someone's focus on death, seek assistance for him or her.
Acquisition of a means of suicide, like a firearm or pharmaceuticals that were not legitimately prescribed to the person who is in possession of them, is another reason for grave concern.
Suicide and Mental Health
There are several links between suicide and mental health. First of all, many signs of suicide can look very like depression. These include:
Others can look like the manic behavior of someone with bipolar disorder. These include:
Other links between suicide and mental health include the fact that antidepressant medications have been linked to suicide attempts in teens, children, and young adults and the discovery that depression modifies the brain in such a way that people become prone to suicide, according to a paper published in 2008 in Biological Psychiatry. Even if these signs "only" point to mood disorders, rather than suicide, they should still be brought to a health care professionals attention so the person can receive assistance.
Suicide and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse, or even increased use of alcohol that may not clearly fit the category or abuse, may be a warning sign of suicide. In teens, it has been found that substance abuse may may be an attempt to cope with depression. Since substance abuse and depression independently are risk factors for suicide in teens, this is definitely a significant warning sign and means that teens who are treated for substance abuse should also be screened for depression and potential suicide.
Remembering Suicide Warning Signs
When we don't use knowledge frequently, it can slide from our conscious memories. If you are in a situation in which you may need to recognize suicide warning signs from time to time, but not so often that the signs stay firmly in mind, you can download a wallet card to have them handy when you need them from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/SuicideWarningSigns.aspx
Related Article: Drug & Alcohol Use Warning Signs >>