Suicide warning signs
Suicide warning signs
This topic is not pleasant, however it is very important. Suicide warning signs should be taken very seriously. The tragic loss of Robin Williams (August, 2014) is just one example of how serious the topic of suicide is. If you have even the slightest suggestion that somebody you know may be contemplating suicide, please get help. What might be some signs of someone contemplating suicide? (These are signs, not risk factors which should not be confused).
Some of the more common ways that somebody may convey suicide is as follows (more common suicide warning signs):
* When they mention it/threaten it. They may talk about it, write about it, draw about it, or hint about it. Threatening it or talking about suicide can include both direct threats (for example, “I’m going to kill myself”), or indirect threats (for example, “I might as well be dead”).
* If they are displaying feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness. This can obviously correlate strongly with depression, and this can be a prominent warning sign for those recovering from a recent acute psychotic episode.
*Expressing feelings of guilt or personal worthlessness or uselessness (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* If they start giving away possessions.
* The presence of hallucinatory voices in where such voices instruct them to hurt or kill themselves.
* Trying to get affairs in order (this includes ‘patching up’ problems/disputes with others).
* Preparation of a will.
* An unexplained brightening of mood, or anger and seeking revenge (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Preoccupations with death (Rudd, 2008, p. 88) including talking about and thinking about a dead person or listening to music about death.
* The person may not communicate, yet they may also talk about it and make plans (Procter & Ferguson, 2015, p. 31.)
Suicide warning signs can be verbal which are far more obvious to detect, or non-verbal which include HOW people say things, the way they look, their tone of voice and the way they hold their body.
Further suicide warning signs can include:
* Not caring about themselves; poor hygiene, poor eating habits, and not caring how they look when or if they go out.
* Putting themselves down, for example “I’m no good”, or expressing hopelessness (Procter & Ferguson, 2015, p. 31).
* Being distant and remote, for example, staying in one’s room for lengthy periods of time (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Being on edge (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Being overly sensitive or anxious (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Engaging in risk-taking behaviours (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Overuse of alcohol and drugs (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* In children/adolescents; running away/truancy.
* Creating art work about death.
* Staying in bed more than normal (Rudd, 2008, p. 88).
* Unexplained absences and lateness or crying easily.
* Deteriorating health, illnesses, lethargy, loss of appetite or weight loss.
* Decreased performance at work or at school.
Warning signs for student suicide:
A change in a student’s mood and behavior can be a significant warning of possible suicide. The student may become depressed and withdrawn, undergo a significant decline in self-esteem, and show deterioration in personal hygiene. Accompanying these signs can be a profound loss of interest in studies. The student will often stop attending classes. Usually, the student’s distress is communicated to at least one other person. The student may perceive suicide as a ‘way out’ of academic failure which may result (at least partially) from parental expectations. However, for most suicidal students, both male and female, a major factor appears to be the failure to establish, or the loss of, a close interpersonal relationship.
Suicide can be prevented and there are some things which we can do or try.
The purpose of this article is improve public awareness and response.
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Procter, N., & Ferguson, M. (2015). Are there warning signs for suicide? Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 23(5), 31.
Rudd, M. D. (2008). Suicide warning signs in clinical practice. Current Psychiatry Reports, 10(1), 88. doi:10.1007/s11920-008-0015-4[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]