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Suicide warning signs

Those who are feeling suicidal often demonstrate a change of behavior prior to a suicide attempt.

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Loved ones should be on especially high alert when a behavioral change is in response to a painful event or loss. Warning signs can be in the form of actions or words. If these signs of suicide or shown there could be an immediate risk for suicidal thoughts or actions.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention puts warning signs into three main categories: talk, actions and mood.

Suicidal talk warning signs

Warning signs related to suicidal talk includes conversations about feeling hopeless, lost, trapped, in pain or being a burden to others. Often, a suicidal person verbalizes desires about taking his or her life. Such talk should be taken seriously and never just dismissed as being overly emotional or a joke.

Action warning signs

Behaviors that could signal a person is feeling suicidal or otherwise struggling include increased drug or alcohol use and abuse. Withdrawing or isolating themselves from family, friends and activities, showing aggression and fatigue are also considered behavioral warning signs. Just like suicidal talk should never be dismissed, strange actions such as visiting or calling people to tell them goodbye, giving away prized possessions or researching methods on how to carry out a suicide should not be overlooked. These things could indeed be one preparing to attempt suicide.

Mood warning signs

Depression and anxiety, feelings of irritability, humiliation, shame or agitation could be mood warning that one is feeling suicidal. Even sudden mood swings improvement and relief could be considered a risk factor and should be monitored closely.

Not everyone who exhibits a few of these warning signs is suicidal, but the emergence of just one of these warning signs from any of the three categories should be enough to be taken seriously.

If you recognize any these suicide warning signs in a friend, colleague or family member, start a conversation about suicide and mental health. Advocates urge people to use specific language – don’t be afraid to ask directly and specifically if someone is thinking about killing themselves. It could be the opportunity someone needs to share thoughts and feelings in a positive way. You could be the one who assists in getting the help they need, whether it’s scheduling an appointment with a therapist, joining a support group, or immediately calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or another hotline.

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