Zane Landin, Region VI SAC
September 26, 2018
This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about suicidality which may be triggering.
Pain isn’t always obvious, but most suicidal people show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. Unfortunately, you may have known someone that has had suicidal thoughts or has died from suicide. The most important action to take in preventing suicide and being an educator for mental health related issues is understanding and observing the warning signs of suicide. The signs may appear in conversations, through their actions, or in social media posts. If you observe one or more of these warning signs, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change, step in or speak up.
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA) the suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students. These young people are often away from home and friends for the first time. They're living with strangers, far from their support systems, and working under intense pressure - with disrupted sleeping, eating and exercise patterns. You could hardly design a more stressful atmosphere, particularly when depression or other mental health issues enter the picture. Here's a snapshot of the grim statistics on college suicides and teen suicide attempts, as well as what some colleges are doing to help.
Here are four warning signs of suicidal ideation
This may appear to be the most obvious sign that someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, but such statements related to someone wanting to kill themselves may be interpreted jokingly or disregarded: “I just can't take it anymore, I just want to end it all." Their statements might be subtle or vague. These thoughts may be reflected in something written or drawn as well. These messages are commonly overlooked.
They don't see their situation or life changing for the better and don't see a way out. They make statements that life seems pointless, hopeless, desperate, and trapped: “It still feels like, I’m being pulled underwater, with no way to get to the surface.” People who are experiencing suicidal thoughts are deep in depressive thought and feel the world is against their happiness. People with suicidal thoughts may talk about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. Highlighting and allowing them to see the positive effect they have on the world could be the first step to bringing them back from their hopeless thoughts.
Potentially dangerous behavior, such as reckless driving, engaging in unsafe sex, and increased use of drugs and/or alcohol might indicate that the person no longer values his or her life. A long with reckless behavior, people experiencing these thoughts could high levels of stress and anxiety. These are also unhealthy ways in coping with stress.
Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed. This type of behavior can commonly be seen as flaky, which could make the person’s friends and family feel disconnected to them.
Responding to suicide warning signs
Speak up if you are worried
You can talk to a friend or family member if you are concerned with someone’s mental health. It can be extremely difficult. If you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask how someone is doing and being there for them. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can give relief from isolation and pent-up negative feelings, and may reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.
How to start a conversation about suicide
Questions you can ask
What you can say that helps
SPREAD THE WORD
Now you know some warning signs of suicidality and some ways to have a direct conversation with someone who may be in crisis. Don't keep this important information to yourself. Help us educate others by sharing the website below with friends, family and loved ones through social media. Together we have the power to make a difference, and the power to save a life.
If you or you know someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please go to this website.
Suicide Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Suicide hotline Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255
Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NASPA. If you agree or disagree with the content of this post, we encourage you to dialogue in the comment section below. NASPA reserves the right to remove any blog that is inaccurate or offensive.