Suicide is a major cause of death across all ages, sexual orientations, and all demographics. It is a harrowing experience for all of those affected, so we will take a look at some of the major warning signs of suicide that should give rise to concern.
According to save.org, nearly 800,000 people in the world die from suicide each year. This amounts to one suicide every 40 seconds. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States alone. While these numbers count the deaths by suicide, lest we not forgot the number of suicide attempts. There is one death for every four attempts. Thus, suicide is a genuine and ongoing problem. This is by no means a comprehensive list of potential warning signs of suicide, but these are some of the main things to look for:
1. Sudden Withdrawal from Society
If you observe a person suddenly withdrawing from all social contact, this should raise a red flag. This can extend to avoiding friends and rejecting family outings. If someone is cut off from social connections, that is a sign that they may be feeling suicidal. According to webmd.com, the exponential concern should be given if the events or contacts that a person has abandoned are things they typically really enjoy.
2. Increased Substance Use
Whether it is drugs or alcohol, dependence, or abuse of either substance tells of a heightened need to escape reality. This could be considered the first step in a march toward suicide and should be noted as such. Abuse is also a sign that the user cares little about the effects or consequences of their actions and an ultimate detachment from their sense of well-being.
3. Harmful Behavior
This is a sort of follow-up to increased abuse of substances. Destructive behavior includes substance abuse, but it can also be generally risky behavior, driving recklessly, or unsafe sex. Engaging in any activities or practices that indicate not valuing their life is a good indicator that suicidal thoughts or actions are afoot.
4. Changes In Sleep Patterns
This may be a little more difficult to observe, but if a person exhibits drastic changes in their sleeping habits, that should cause concern about possible suicidal thoughts. Sleep helps restore energy and renew spirits. But too much sleep can indicate lethargy and indifference. Changes include either sleeping too little or sleeping too much, depending on the person.
5. Feelings of Hopelessness
Loss of hope is hard to address, but it is essential to take note of it. Keeping hope alive and a person motivated to look positively toward the future is a tricky road to navigate because motivating factors differ from person to person. But, take notice if someone you care about exhibits feelings of hopelessness. A person who has little expectation for the future and sees no hope for improvement is apt to have an unwillingness to live. These symptoms are a big sign of suicidal thoughts and intentions and should be given merit.
6. Declines in Hygienic Practices
This sign also exists on the same plane of not caring about the future or the value of one’s life. If a person stops brushing their teeth, showering regularly and abandons regular grooming practices, take notice. These are significant indicators that they no longer take pride in their appearance and have no investment in their future. Both are signs of suicidal thoughts.
At Ocean Hills Recovery, we heed all warnings of suicides because struggles with mental illness, addiction, and suicide are inexorably linked. It is, therefore, an important subject to monitor for those of us devoted to recovery.
If you or someone you know is fighting suicidal feelings, it’s essential to know that you are not alone, and people are willing to help. A call to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at 1-800-273-8255, can be the first step to maintaining help.
Please share this infographic with others to help us notice the warning signs of suicide:
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.