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According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,193 Americans commit suicide
every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. If you’re worried that someone close to you may commit suicide, please check to see if they exhibit any of the following warning signs:
- Withdrawal from social activities, including reduced contact with friends and family members.
- Missing school or work.
- An increase in drug or alcohol use.
- Sleeping either too much or too little.
- Little to no physical activity (e.g. laying in bed all day).
- Giving away possessions.
- Displaced aggression.
- Mood swings.
- Talks about suicide.
According to Mental Health America, 80% of people who contemplate suicide show signs of their intentions. But do keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all checklist, meaning that your loved one may only exhibit one of these signs or they may exhibit none of these signs, which brings me to my next point.
If you have an inexplicable feeling that something is wrong—a gut feeling as some may call it—trust it. Reach out to your loved one and check in on how they’re doing. There’s a good chance that the simple act of reaching out and showing that you care can save that person’s life.
Along that same note, I want to talk about how to properly respond to someone who is contemplating suicide. This person may be direct about their intentions (e.g. “I want to kill myself”) or indirect (e.g. “I hate my life and I wish I’d never been born”). Both comments should be taken seriously.
Whatever you do, do not—I repeat: do not—respond with cynicism or judgment. Statements such as, “you’re being over dramatic” or “you’ll be fine, toughen up” will only push the person more towards suicide. Instead, respond with statements such as, “I’m here for you, you are not alone” or “I care a lot about you and I want to help you in any way that I can.”
To learn more about what you can do to prevent your loved one from committing suicide, visit helpguide.org.