Suicidal Ideations / Suicidal Tendencies – Recognize and Respond
Knowing The Signs
We all make mistakes. Hopefully, we can learn from them – but suicide is one mistake that the victim can never learn from. Suicide in the United States is a serious epidemic, one of the top five killers of young people today. It is very important in today’s society that we take steps to recognize the causes of suicide, the diseases that sometimes create suicidal tendencies, and the signs that may warn of suicide. Remember that an early warning could be the difference between life and death. If you feel depressed and find yourself thinking life is hopeless, or if you have a friend who seems preoccupied with death, please educate yourself! Whether you recognize a suicidal tendency in yourself or in a friend or loved one, you could save a life.
Myths about Suicide
Myth — People who commit suicide really want to die.
Fact — Most people who commit or attempt suicide really don’t want to die. It’s just that they feel overwhelmed by negative feelings and hopelessness, often as a result of clinical depression, and believe that death is the only way to end their suffering. Suicidal people don’t want to die; they want to be helped.
Myth — People with suicidal ideations are weak-willed.
Fact — People with suicidal ideations are sick, predominantly with clinical depression and often with anxiety disorders as well. These conditions are diagnosable by a doctor, and are not the victim’s fault any more than leukemia or cancer would be. With treatment, these diseases and the suicidal urges can be controlled, and even cured. Suicidal tendencies are not some sort of personality flaw and are NOT the victim’s fault!
Myth — Talking about suicide is just a cry for attention — people who talk about it never go through with it.
Fact — Yes, talking about suicide is an attempt to get attention, but not for any selfish reasons. People who talk about committing suicide are often at a stage of depression where they feel alone and helpless, and are desperate for someone to reach out to them. NEVER assume that any threat or consideration of suicide is “idle talk!” Any such behavior should be taken very seriously, as should any thoughts or urges you may have toward suicide, and immediate action should be taken.
Myth — If you talk about suicide with a suicidal person, it makes them more likely to make an attempt on their life.
Fact — Not true! Confronting someone about their intent to commit suicide actually relieves fear and anxiety surrounding the event and can prevent a suicide attempt, or at least stave one off until the individual can be taken to professional help.
Myth — When a person seems happy and calm after a bout of depression, it means the danger has passed.
Fact — Actually, this situation can be an extreme warning sign for suicide. Often, when a person decides to commit suicide, making the decision itself makes them calm because it relieves anxiety and promises an end to suffering. Even if someone seems better, they should be watched — especially if the change from depressed and anxious to happy and calm seems very abrupt.
Myth — It is a bad idea to tell someone else about your (or a friend’s) suicidal ideations / thoughts.
Fact — This is not true. No one can help you if they don’t know anything is wrong. Talking about how you feel, or even telling and authority figure about a friend’s suicidal ideations / thoughts, could save their life. Some people feel embarrassed about their depression and suicidal ideations / thoughts, and don’t want others to know — but feeling a little embarrassed is much better than dying.
Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideations / Suicidal Tendendencies
These are common signs that can mean that you or someone you know is moving closer to suicide.
Depression, particularly extreme or prolonged depression
- Listlessness, lack of interest in normal activities
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling completely overwhelmed, useless, or helpless
- Talking about suicide
- Preoccupation with death
- Ignores responsibilities like work and school
- Ends relationships, distances friends and family
- Sudden behavior changes after a period of depression
These are some of the most common signs of suicidal tendencies, but anyone who is depressed and exhibits unusual behaviors should be monitored closely and have plenty of support. If you see these signs in someone else, talk to them about how they feel and offer to help them. If you are exhibiting these behaviors yourself, talk to a friend or call a suicide hotline right away! Remember that depression is not permanent and suicide is not the only way out. Anyone who is depressed and considering suicide can be helped, and can move past the low period to live a normal, happy life. Please don’t give up — call someone now.