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If someone is seriously depressed and thinking of attempting suicide there are often warning signs that family and friends can pick up on. Noticing and acting upon these warning signs could save a life.
Most people who are considering suicide are willing to talk about their problems if someone shows they care. Don't be afraid of discussing the subject with someone you think may be suicidal. Talking about suicide won't 'plant the idea' in someone's head. This is a myth. If you are wrong, you're at least showing a friend you care. If you are right, you could save their life.
Sometimes stress or a traumatic event like bereavement can trigger suicidal thoughts in a vulnerable person. For this reason it's important to ask a friend who is going through a tough time how they are coping and if they need some support. Having someone to talk with can make all the difference.
Warnings signs may include but are not limited to:
Most suicidal young people don't really want to die but they do want their pain to end. In around 80% of cases people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.
Watch for these signs. They may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk.
These warning signs become more notable if there has been:
Other key risk factors include:
What to do if you see the warning signs?
If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If he or she has expressed an immediate plan, or has access to medication or other potentially deadly means, do not leave him or her alone. Get help immediately.
These steps can be effective:
For an adolescent the loss of such a relationship is traumatic in many cases. His or her world has come crashing down. Behind many a macho exterior or sour grapes attitude is a sensitive and hurting young person. Trite expressions like "Things will get better in time" or "There are other fish in the sea" show no sensitivity for the hurt the young person is feeling and deny that the pain is real.
The pain of separation by death can be so great that the young person might be driven to join that person in death. Furthermore, the grief process often does not include the young person in the family. Many adults do not consider the possibility that the grief that a young person is experiencing at the death of a close family member is as profound as their own.
Consider the teenager whose only true listener is the dog. The dog is there to listen and to love and to never pass judgment. And if that dog should die?
For many teenagers, "job" means maturity and independence. Take away the job? What happens to the independence?
Consider the boy who publicly stated he was aiming to be a team captain and didn't make it. Consider the student who wanted to attend a prestigious college but got a rejection instead, and everyone knows it
The loss of a parent through divorce is more traumatic than is commonly admitted. Many teenagers feel responsible for the break-up of the marriage. The imagined or actual fear of a possible divorce is also tremendously painful for the teenager.
The need to achieve high marks, time to accomplish several major assignments simultaneously, involvement in too many extracurricular activities, demands of school sports, college applications.
The need to find acceptance, group morals, conformity to clothing styles, drugs, alcohol, sex, and bullying to name just few.
Success, money, the right college, the right friends, good marks, conflict between the need to control and the need to be independent, marital problems between parents, "get a job", clothing, music, the parent who wants to be a "friend", lectures rather than examples.
Consider the young man who thinks that physically he does not match his peers. Consider the young lady who thinks she's plain and homely. Consider the effect of skin blemishes at debs time.
Consider the young man or the young lady who always feels like a second choice when it comes to dating or being chosen for anything.
Consider the pain and agony of the teenager who is caught between the two worlds of sexuality and who is terrified to speak to anyone about this for fear of ridicule. Consider the young person whose fear of being homosexual is based on a lack of fundamental sexual knowledge.
Consider the teenager who, influenced by the media blitz and by teenage styles, judges importance or lack thereof by the type of clothes he or she is forced to wear.
Consider the teenager who must not only cope with a physical problem, but also with the unkind remarks and glances of others.
Consider the teenager whose older brother or sister was a "genius" and is constantly reminded of the difference between them.
Many teenagers feel so isolated and alone that they are convinced that there is no one to help them and that no one really cares. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. What matters is that this is how they perceive it, and so they suffer in silent isolation.
Consider the teenager who instead of looking to the future with expectation is overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. All hope in the future has been lost.
Talking about suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."
Seeking out lethal means
Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death
Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
Getting affairs in order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.
Withdrawing from others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
Sudden sense of calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to die by suicide.
If you would like to support our FreeText service you can make a text donation of €4.00 by texting YSPI to 50300
Text costs €4. Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland will receive a minimum of €3.25. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278.
Important NoticeIf a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If they have expressed an immediate plan, or have access to prescription medication or other potentially deadly means, do not leave them alone. Get help immediately.
The Samaritans116 123
Pieta House1800 247 247
Aware1890 30 33 02
ISPCC Childline1800 66 66 66
Teen-Line Ireland1800 83 36 34
Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland (RCN20070670)
1st Floor 59 High Street
Co Kerry V93 N977
Tel 021 - 242 7173