The Suicide Warning Signs You Need to Know About

Every six hours, someone in Michigan dies by suicide. That adds up to 1,410 deaths a year—and 100 percent of them are preventable. While it may be difficult to understand why someone would consider taking their own life, knowing how to help them and being brave enough to start the conversation could ultimately make all the difference. With September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, now is the time to find out what you can do to help friends and family members who are at risk.

Someone might be considering suicide if they show any of these warning signs:

  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

If you notice these signs and think someone you know may be thinking about completing suicide, don’t stay silent. You can start by asking them questions to determine their level of suicide risk. Say you’ve been concerned about them and ask when they began feeling that way and if something has happened. As you listen, be patient, calm and sympathetic as well as offer words of encouragement and reassurance. In all cases, urge them to seek professional guidance with a mental health professional, treatment facility or primary care physician.

If you think someone is immediate danger, here are some steps to take to ensure the person’s safety:

  • Don’t leave them alone. If the situation is serious, stay with them to make sure they are safe. If you need to seek help, get someone else to watch over them.
  • Clean the room. Make sure to remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as sharp objects, guns, medications, belts or other items that could be used to constrict airflow.
  • Seek help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day. If it’s an emergency, call 911.

For every suicide, there are 25 attempts. If you’re interested in learning more or finding a support group, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Directions Behavioral Health and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offer a variety of resources.

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