Signs Your Loved One is Considering Suicide
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that suicide is incredibly complicated. There is no one reason why anyone would want to end their own life. Also, suicide is incredibly personal; I might not be doing that person the favor they truly need, even if I try to go out of my way to “save” them.
Have you ever asked yourself: Is my friend considering suicide?
If you are feeling worried about a friend or family member, consider these warning signs of suicidal ideation before taking any extreme measures.
Just one of these signs might not mean they are considering suicide, but it never hurts to know how to talk to your friendor family member just in case you have a gut feeling about it.
Talk about wanting to die
Some people like to make light of situations by talking about death or shooting themselves because of such and such situation. These aren’t the type on conversations you should be concerned about (although making light of self-harm isn’t a great way to handle a stressful situation, see our article on good ways to handle stress). Additionally, some people have a death wish- as in they want to die, but they wouldn’t dream of ending their life themselves. If your friend says they just wish they could “pass away”, this might be an important *wish* to address, but it doesn’t mean they are considering self-harm.
When someone is considering suicide, they talk about being dead or about suicide explicitly. They might romanticize it through music or poetry, or just in the frequency of verbalizing it. Whatever medium they choose to be engulfed in the idea of suicide, this is a major sign.
Being a burden on others
Feeling like they are a burden on others is a common theme. Someone who wants to end their life often feels alienated and isolated from their community. This contributes to the thought that they don’t deserve nice behavior from others. This constant narrative of their life carrying no worth is common among people who suffer from suicidal ideation.
Life is hopeless and purposeless
Although these words may not be used directly, it’s not hard to pick out when someone seems to feel hopeless. They might be fatalistic, imagining the worst possible scenario. Because they feel hopeless, this contributes to a lack of self-care because they often wonder, “what’s the point?” They might show little aim or direction in life, and something like a lack of progress.
Withdrawal or isolation
Is your friend or family member rejecting offers to spend time with you? Do they seem to be doing so with many of their other friends and family members? Do they seem to spend many hours alone? Isolation is a largely important aspect of suicide assessment. A lack of support system is one of the greatest factors for suicide and therefore shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Reckless behavior (particularly if this behavior is new) can be another red flag for suicidal ideation. When someone is feeling purposeless, and burdensome to others, their own regard for their life is lessened and therefore dangerous behavior doesn’t carry the fear that it normally would. For example, excessive drinking or smoking, and risky driving or sexual encounters. Sometimes cutting and other self-harm is another type of reckless behavior that precedes suicide attempts.
Feeling physically or emotionally trapped
Imagine that your physical or emotional pain is so great that you feel as if you can’t move at all. These feelings can become so engulfing that you feel like there is no way out of the hole you’ve fallen into. This kind of persistent feeling can be another indicator of potential death by suicide and therefore needs to be assessed.
Unexplainable mood swings
We all feel stressors at times, lashing out or withdrawing all of a sudden. We all can go from feeling elated one moment to utterly depressed the next. Often these feelings are attached to stressful events. However, in some cases this behavior is consistently unexplainable and unexpected. These behaviors can indicate an underlying stress or depression that the person hasn’t yet learned how to communicate or feels that stifling it is a better way to deal.
Like most mental, emotional, and social disturbances in a person’s life, suicidal ideation lives on a spectrum. If you notice several of these symptoms in yourself or others, be sure to help or get help.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
OR Text the Crisis Text Line: CONNECT to 741741
Did you think any of this information was useful? Would you like more information about suicide? Feel free to let us know below! And check out our other articles on ways to prep for a suicide conversation and steps to ask your friend if they are considering suicide.