We all experience sadness. But when does that cross over the line to chronic depression, even suicide? According to the CDC, more than 41,000 individuals die each year by self-induced causes. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Are you able to discern when someone is hopeless and sees no way out? Here are some red flags that could indicate potentially dangerous behavior.
“I wish I wasn’t here”
Thoughts and comments like these—whether verbal or written—or about death in general should put you on high alert. Though they may seem ‘harmless’ at first, they should be taken seriously. This isn’t just mind chatter, it’s a silent cry for help.
A plan in motion
If there are unmistakable signs that the subject has been researching ways to kill himself, writing a letter, tying up “loose ends” or giving away their prized possessions – be prepared to seek help. Calculated steps like these make it apparent that they could follow through with taking their life.
Increased alcohol and drug use
Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness, substance abuse can “result in highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.” Abusers may attempt to carry out these plans under the influence – enabling them to loosen inhibitions and take risks they wouldn’t normally.
If you notice that someone close to you seems severely depressed and keeping to themselves, reach out to them. Retreating from friends, family or community is one symptom of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This also includes losing interest in things they previously enjoyed.
Dramatic mood swings
Unusually aggressive or reckless behavior are telling red flags that you should pay attention to. Also, be aware of anxiety or irritability, especially where they were once easygoing. However, leading up to a suicide attempt, a person may exhibit a change in mood from sadness to a state of calmness that may signify that they’re ready to commit to their plan.
If you or someone you know needs help, get support immediately.