Whilst re-reading my posts regarding suicide I realised there was something I forgot to discuss.
Did you know that approximately 70% of people who commit suicide actually tell someone about their plans beforehand?
The problem is they do so in such a way that you may not realise what they are planning to do.
So how do they do it? Do they invite you out for tea and lamingtons and casually drop a “oh, by the way, I’m going to be jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday. Just wanted to let you know you’ve been awesome, but, yeah. See ya,”
Nope, they do it in far more devious ways than that.
What I missed out of the posts I wrote earlier this week were the signals – some subconscious, some conscious – that people who are planning to kill themselves use to tell people they are going to commit suicide. Now, this list isn’t hardened proof, because sometimes people just suddenly do it. However, for those with a plan I would pretty much say that they would give off at least one of them.
Signs and signals someone may be about to commit suicide.
1. Talking about dying.
This one’s a pretty big one. Now we’ve all probably talked about wanting to die at some point, often out of exasperation, but if someone is suffering from depression and they start talking about dying – death, disappearing, wanting to die, not wanting to go on any longer – those alarm bells should start tingling a little. On every single occasion I attempted suicide I did this.
2. Recent Loss
Another biggie which can push someone to suicide, especially if they are depressed. A sudden loss of something important – death of family member/friend, relationship breakup, loss of job, money, divorce etc. If someone has just suffered a loss, and is talking about wanting to die, those alarm bells should go up a notch. Even the loss of something along the lines of confidence, self-esteem or a loss of religious faith can be indicative of what may happen.
3. Extravagant spending/Giving away important personal possessions
So you’re friend is depressed, they’ve just suffered a loss of some kind and they’ve talked about death…now they’ve started spending it up and giving things away. WHOAH! This is a huge signal! They are giving things away which are of important sentimental value because they will not have any further use for them! They’re spending because they will not have any further use for their money! This person is REALLY trying to tell you something.
4. No Hope for the Future
Do I need to explain this one? If someone has just suffered a loss, is depressed, talking about dying, giving away all their lovely hard earned things and in addition express without question that there is no hope for a future – or that they cannot see anything good happening in their future – this is them pretty much taking you out for tea and lamingtons and telling you they’re about to jump off the Golden Gate bridge. Alarm bells should now have become a plank of wood giving you are short sharp WHACK on the arse to wake you up!
In my opinion, if someone is doing the above 4 they are asking you to help them in the ONLY way they know how to ask. If they’re also doing some of the following, they definitely are!
5. Previous suicide attempts
6. Making Wills
7. Loss of interest in life: activities, events, things they previously enjoyed.
8. Excessive abuse of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes.
9. Visiting/Contacting old friends or family member. Also, resolving of any unfinished business which they want to resolve.
10. They – after being depressed – suddenly, without warning, become “happy”
This is because they are at peace with their decision. They know what they’re going to do, and finally, after however long suffering, they are going to get the peace they deserve. This one is dangerous because it may make you think they are “better” and no longer at risk. Whereas the truth is, it’s probably the biggest signal of them all – especially for someone who has been going through a lengthy period of depression.
[NOTE on the above list: this is NOT conclusive! Please do not read as gospel, someone planning suicide may do all of them, or none of them. If they have a history of previous suicide attempts, any appearance of these signals should arose deeper concern.]
Now the thing is what do you do?
Some suggestions…from my own experiences, the only thing I can suggest is this: ask them!
“Do you sometimes feel so bad you think about suicide?”
“Have you ever thought about taking your own life?”
Don’t be afraid to use the word suicide. And most importantly LISTEN to them. The simple fact that you are asking them, means you are concerned about them, which indicates to them you care about them. You are taking them seriously, and that’s important because if anyone ever mentions suicide you have to TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! Always, without fail, take it seriously.
Speak to them about how they’re feeling, try not to judge or mock them. I think also, which would be hard, but try not to show disapproval of what they are planning.
Once the conversation is under way it is important to ascertain how urgent the situation is.
Ask them questions along the lines of:
“Do you have a plan?”
“Have you thought about how you’d do it?”
“Have you attempted suicide before?”
This way you will have some idea of how dangerous the situation is, so don’t underestimate the problem. And please, ask HOW and WHEN long before you ask WHY. It is vital to determine how close they are to committing suicide before you help deal with the reasons for it. These can be dealt with after the situation has passed it’s ‘critical’ point.
What you could do depending on the urgency of the situation, is to form a verbal contract with them. If you think they are going to be committing suicide in the near-future, ask them to call you before they go through with their suicidal feelings.
Finally, really the only thing to do once you have talked about it, is to seek help.
Contact a suicide crisis helpline.
Suicide is one of the touchiest subjects there is. No-one is comfortable talking about it, it’s a highly charged emotional minefield. It is however important to talk about it, because it’s only by talking that understanding, help and support can be offered.
If you are worried that someone you know may be planning on committing suicide.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Don’t be afraid of seeking help.
It is better to act on your suspicions, because by not trying to help, frankly, you may lose them forever.