How to Recognize if Your Friend Is Suicidal

W. Nate Upshaw, MD

W. Nate Upshaw, MD

Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaw’s holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Florida’s leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.

About Dr. Upshaw

Did you know that depression is at an all-time high in the United States? It’s true, and more alarmingly, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in America. Though, it is important to keep in mind that suicide is preventable in many cases. Most importantly, a suicidal individual needs proper help before its too late.

In order to prevent suicide from occuring with a friend or a loved one, it is important that you understand the warning signs first. Let’s talk about the signs and struggles of suicide ideation that you may notice in a suicidal person.

Warning Signs Of A Suicidal Person

They have become very withdrawn and apathetic towards major problems.

One of the most common warning signs of suicide deals with the person’s behavior. If they have been struggling with depression or grief for a long time and then suddenly become calmer than usual, this can be a warning sign of suicide. Either way, depression, long periods of sadness, and moodiness are all major risk factors for suicide.

If you notice that the person in question starts to withdraw from others by choosing to be alone and avoiding friends and family, this can be a cause for concern. Many people considering death by suicide often experience a deepening sense of apathy toward the world around them, if this is the case encourage your loved one to seek professional help and remind them how much you care about their wellbeing.

It’s also worth noting that people experiencing suicidal thoughts may engage in dangerous behavior such as driving too fast or increasing their use of drugs and alcohol. If you notice these suicide symptoms, it may be worth confronting your friend about their thoughts and offer caring support.

They threaten suicide.

Suicidal threats should be taken seriously no matter the circumstance. Suicidal threats are actually found to be one of the most common signs of suicide in teens. Regardless of the situation, you should always take someone seriously if they express suicidal thoughts or explicitly say, “I feel suicidal.”

On a similar note, if the person references not being around in the future, this too can be a sign that an individual is experiencing suicidal ideation.

They mention that they feel like a burden.

Many suicidal people feel overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. This often makes them feel that they’re a burden to people around them. Any time that you hear people mention that they feel like a burden, it’s time to hit the pause button and provide your support.

This is a frequent symptom of suicide ideation, so reach out to your friend if this happens and make sure they’re directed to the necessary resources.

Your friend started to give away a lot of their personal possessions, mentions final wishes, and more.

One of the most alarming signs of suicide deals with the person doing “prep work” for the end of their life. This can include doing things like giving away beloved items, mentioning final wishes in passing, making a will, or writing suicide notes.

If there are a lot of signs of post-mortem preparations, you should ask what’s going on and offer your support. If you notice a friend writing a suicide note, then it’s time to get them help they need.

They self-harm.

Self-harm is one of the most serious signs of suicide potential that you can find. More specifically, it is a sign of suicidal ideation that has turned towards suicidal actions. This means that the person has suicidal tendencies and may be far closer to killing themself than you think.

While some people who engage in self-harm may be suicidal, not everyone who self-harms does so with fatal intent. Most people who self-harm are not suicidal but there is a noteworthy correlation between these two different behaviors.

How You Can Help a Loved One in Need

Your friend is going through a major mental crisis right now, and it’s one that should not be ignored. They need your help as well as the help of a qualified professional. Now is a good time to do the following:

  • Remove objects or weapons that could be used in suicide attempt
  • Call a crisis hotline and encourage your loved one to do the same
  • Don’t leave them alone if their behavior is becoming highly concerning

If your friend is showing signs of suicide, don’t hesitate to ask if they are contemplating suicide and encourage them to seek the help of a professional. If your friend is in imminent danger of harming themselves, call 911 immediately.

This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.

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