Thanks to Part 1, we know how suicides can happen, and what factors can contribute to those feelings. Now, we’ll take a look at how those suicidal thoughts manifest through actions, and how you can catch them when they happen.
1. Previous Suicide Attempts
Relief is a natural reaction when a loved one survives from an attempt. But, if they’ve attempted before, they will likely try again. Talking about suicide isn’t always comfortable, but it can be done. If they are preparing for another attempt (see #2), call 911 or seek mental health assistance.
2. When They Look For Ways to Die
This can include seeking access to pills, knives, and other objects they can use to harm themselves. Prevention is better than intervention, and keeping your child safe is the ultimate priority. Don’t hesitate to support them and provide them with appropriate professional help.
3. Talking about Suicide/Wanting to Die
If your child is uncharacteristically preoccupied with death and dying, pay attention. If they express feelings of truly wanting to die, take those feelings seriously and respond with compassion and empathy. There are many resources for professional help available (some linked below).
4. Giving Away Belongings/Writing a Will
If your child is giving away their belongings to some of their loved ones (it might even be you!) and especially writing a will, chances are they’re preparing for something final. Use this opportunity to reach out and check in.
As previously mentioned, hopelessness is a key factor to suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem that feels hopeless. Be there for your children, and empower them by showing them what they can do to help themselves or their situation.
6. Dramatic Behavioral Changes
This doesn’t apply to natural change and growth that results from adolescence. These changes tend to be sudden and concerning, and can hint at something more worrisome.
Withdrawing from Friends, Family, Fun Activities
Sleeping All the Time, or Very Little
Increased Agitation and Anxiety
Reckless/Risky (But Not Necessarily Life-Threatening) Behaviors
It’s important to note that not everyone experiencing suicide ideation will exhibit these warning signs. Our goal is to empower you with the warning signs so you can help the majority in pain who do. For more information on suicide research and warning signs, click here.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who does, there is help: