Identifying Suicidal Thoughts: How to Recognize a Friend In Crisis

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide claimed the lives of an average of 105 people per day in the United States in 2010.  That’s 105 people who potentially could have been saved and moved on to live better and healthier lives.

Suicide is often a complicated and extreme choice that those who are in extreme suffering make.  Given the nature of suicide it is imperative that all of us as family members, loved ones, friends and partners are able to identify early on that our loved ones may be considering such a final decision to end their pain.

Generally speaking, people who are suicidal often have thoughts of dying and escaping their pain through death prior to an attempt.  These may even be thoughts that you have had yourself at some point.  While these examples below are not an exhaustive list, here are some examples of comments that are pretty strong indicators that you (or your loved one) should get help immediately:

“I have nothing to live for.”

“My family would be better off without me.”

“I just want to end it all.”

“I want to go to sleep and never wake up.”

“I just want to die.”

If someone is considering suicide, it is also likely that they will show other behaviors that are pretty solid indicators that they may be in trouble.  Here are a few examples from SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education):

  • Talking or feeling hopeless
  • Talking about or feeling like a burden to others
  • Making final arrangements or giving things away
  • Suddenly appearing happier or calmer after a period of depression
  • Preoccupation with death

If you observe any of these signs in a loved one or yourself you should always take them seriously. Call 911 and seek appropriate medical care to get your loved one the support he or she needs.

Here are some online resources for suicide prevention:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386

Suicide Prevention Resource Center