19 May Warning signs
How do you know if someone is thinking about suicide? You may be worried about someone but don’t want to make them feel bad if you are wrong.
If you are worried about someone, even in the slightest bit, you would be doing the right thing by saying something either to that person or to a trusted adult because you would be taking action to save a life. That is something about which to be very proud.
Below is a list of warning signs with a small explanation to help you know when you have reason to be concerned… about yourself or someone else. Keep In mind, for many of these, the distinguishing feature (meaning the determining feature) is a CHANGE in behavior over time.
– Loss of interest in usual activities. Does Clifford normally go hiking on weekends and now he just wants to watch sad movies?
– Less social time. Does Amy now choose to read library books all weekend when she normally planned the social calendar?
– Less family time. Does Shoshanna stay away from her family now, when they used to be close? Or does Mike suddenly say horrible things about a family member he used to adore?
– Eating and sleeping changes. Has Alfredo put on a lot of weight, or Meg lost 25 pounds on an already skinny body? Is Freddie showing up with dark circles under his eyes and bragging that no sleep is better than lots of sleep?
– Risk-taking. Is a friend doing things that seem stupid or crazy and now you are realizing that those are actually risks that could be harmful? If his behavior seems odd, it probably is.
– Not looking too good? When someone who used to take good care of herself (or himself!) begins to let things go, then ask yourself, “Why?” Why is Deirdre all of a sudden looking like she hasn’t seen a mirror in weeks? Or Angelo hasn’t showered?
– Running away. Has a friend shown up lately asking to spend not just a night but a week at your house? Hmmm. Maybe ask “Why?”
– Alcohol and drug use. Is it out of control? Out of the ordinary? Detective work here isn’t that difficult. Watch for signs of irrational and /or abnormal behavior.
– Consumed with death and dying. Does your friend talk about it all the time, all of a sudden? Does your friend watch killer movies all day? Surf the Internet for sites about death? Is he fascinated with the graveyard recently?
– Physical or medical symptoms increasing. Has Gregory been complaining of lots of pain lately or enough to get out of events and then sit alone? What’s up with that all of a sudden?
– Loss of interest in activities that were previously interesting. Has Steve decided to stop being student council leader, or Guido no longer plays soccer when he was the lead scorer?
– Bored. A lot of people feel bored from time to time, but when it is pervasive (meaning constant) and keeps people from actually engaging in fun activities, what’s up with that?
– Threats to commit suicide. Not to be taken lightly. It’s very hard for someone to admit that they are feeling so sad and have considered doing something about it. So when Phil mentions that he’s bought ammunition and found a quiet spot in the woods, don’t ask him to pass the ketchup. Take that as an opportunity to discuss his thinking and help him.
– Being self-deprecating. This is when someone puts him or herself down a lot, can’t take praise from others and has a general mood of being down on the self. Lots of teens do this normally, but if it is someone who normally has been upbeat and positive, there is nothing wrong with asking if everything is okay.
– Shows signs of thinking about suicide. This can be anything from texting messages about suicide to posting picture depicting (meaning showing) people committing suicide to behaving in ways that self-harm. (Please read about cutting to learn more.) If anyone you know talks about suicide in a serious, I’ve-considered-suicide kind of way, please seek help. You are doing the right thing by speaking up, even breaking an oath of confidence is better than not saying anything. Why be the trustworthy friend who loses a friend over someone who “can’t be trusted” but can save a life?
What would you do if your friend had some of these warning signs?