September is National Suicide Awareness Month. A 2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Mental Health estimated that about 0.5 percent of the adults aged 18 or older made at least one suicide attempt according to American Foundation on Suicide Prevention. While this percentage may not seem like much, 0.5 percent is approximately 1.4 million adults who have made a suicide attempt. Here are five signs someone close to you may be suicidal and what you can do about it:
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
While it is normal to feel sad from time to time, it is not normal to talk about feeling hopeless and having no joy for life. When your loved one tells you about their life and how they feel hopeless, John M. Grohol, Psy.D. of Psych Central recommends replying with comforting words like, “I am here for you if you need me,” or “How can I help? What can I do for you?” Simply stating these sentences, according to Grohol, is a great reminder that “they’re not alone and they are loved can be invaluable. It also reminds them of the reality — that people in their life do love them and are there for them if they need them.”
Excessive Sadness or Moodiness
Sadness can creep into our life and grab a hold of us. While it is perfectly normal to have a bad day every now and again, continuous sadness or extreme moodiness may be a sign that a person may be suicidal the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education Organization. When they exhibit excessive moodiness or sadness, be wary of other signs (verbal and non-verbal) that may suggest that they are suicidal. Engaging in a conversation with sad or moody people may be a little difficult, but Very Well Mind suggests reminding your loved one that you care and that you are there for them. Although it can be taken the wrong way, cautiously urge them to see a doctor.
Increased Use of Drugs and Alcohol
According to Beyond Blue, an Australian mental health and wellbeing organization, alcohol and drug abuse is a sign that a person may be suicidal. The abuse could be a sign that the person does not value their life or body anymore. Other potentially dangerous can be engaging in unsafe sex and reckless driving. Drugabuse.com recommends that when talking to a person who is abusing drugs, try saying “I acknowledge your addiction” and “my anger is directed toward the disease.” When you separate the anger from the abuser from the disease, “it makes an impact. The person you love is still in there; she’s just being stifled by drugs.”
One of the more common signs, withdrawal is a little easier to spot. If someone close to you actively chooses to be alone and not engage in social activities with friends and loved ones, it may be a sign that they are depressed. According to Kevin Caruso at suicide.org and My Access Health Organization, untreated depression is the #1 cause of suicide. If your loved one previously enjoyed company and activities but are isolating themselves, Metro Health UK urges to not put too much pressure on the person who is withdrawn. While gentle persuading may help, guilt-tripping them by saying comments like “’you’ll feel better if you get out’ and ‘I’m not taking no for an answer’ will just make them feel guilty for letting you down and even more rubbish for not being able to go out.”
Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
A healthy amount of sleep for the average person is about 7-9 hours a day according to HelpGuide.org. However, a person who is depressed or suicidal may sleep much more or much less than the average amount. Know that there are treatments that can be done to help them sleep better such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relaxation Therapy, or Stimulus Control Therapy according to stress.org. If your loved one is excessively sleeping, creating a healthy winding down routine may help them to sleep better.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
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