What are the warning signs?
There may not be any. An emotional crisis is not like a heart attack or a stroke, where there are visible warning signs.
People who have reached rock bottom can be very skilled at hiding their thoughts and feelings.
They may be:
- quiet, brooding
- withdrawn or distant
- avoiding eye contact
- agitated, irritable or rude
- drinking a lot
- talking about suicide or saying it’s all hopeless
They may also be:
- busy, chirpy
- living life as normal
- going to work
- laughing and joking
- talking about future plans
- telling you not to worry about them
So how will you know if they’re thinking about suicide?
The safest way is to ask them.
Why it’s important to ask
If someone is suicidal, they are likely to be feeling:
- cut off from everyone around them
- frightened and ashamed about wanting to die
- desperate for help but afraid to ask
They need someone to start the conversation for them. This shows them that they have permission to talk about it and that they don’t have to wrestle with their dark and terrible thoughts alone.
Some common fears
“Won’t talking about suicide put the idea in their head?”
No. If a person is suicidal, the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal, it won’t do any harm.
What if I say the wrong thing? It could damage our relationship.
Showing a person you care about them won’t damage your relationship. Saying nothing could result in losing them forever.
It’s important to trust your gut instincts. If something about the person doesn’t look or feel right, say something.
Saying something is safer than saying nothing, and saying the word won’t make it happen.