Know Warning Signs and Tips to Prevent Suicide

When you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts, it can be a terrifying situation. Is there anything you can do to prevent them from acting on their thoughts? Yes, definitely! It will require knowing about the warning signs and risk factors many individuals may be giving as an indication that they need help. Read on to learn more about this and suicide prevention tips.

How to Prevent Suicide

1. Knowing the risk factors

Some individuals may be more at risk of suicide than others. Certain life stressors can put a person at a higher risk than others. Some common risk factors include:

  • Past suicide attempts
  • The recent death of a close family member or loved one.
  • The family history of suicide.
  • Being a victim of violence, bullying or abuse.
  • Recent loss of a job.
  • Recent divorce or breakup.
  • A medical condition such as a chronic pain condition or exhaustion.

2. Warning signs

Most individuals give off a number of warning signs before acting on their thoughts. Knowing these warning signs can help you recognize when your friend or loved ones needs to seek help. Some of the most common warning signs include:

  • Talking about harming themselves. Talking or writing about death frequently.
  • Seeking out ways they could commit suicide, such as collect weapons or acquiring drugs.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Having a negative outlook on the future or stating no interest in the future.
  • Unexplainable mood swings.
  • Losing interest in daily activities or hobbies.
  • Neglecting appearance.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Change in sleeping habits.

3. Verbal warnings

A person who is contemplating suicide will often verbalize their intention sometimes subtly and sometimes very bluntly. Paying close attention to what your friend or family member says will help you be on alert for certain phrases that can indicate they are having suicidal thoughts. If the person expresses feelings of being a burden to those around them, they may make comments like “You'd be better off without me around” or “Soon you won't have to deal with me.” How to prevent suicide will require learning these verbal cues. If they make comments about not being understood or that no one cares about them, then you want to be alert for other suicidal signs. Additionally, if they indicate that they are just tired of life, have nothing to live for or just want to escape from the pain they feel, these are clear signs that someone may be suicidal.

4. Behavior changes

When you notice a behavior change in the person, this can be a warning sign that the person is contemplating suicide. From what they are reading more of to what they are getting rid of, there are a number of behavior changes that a person may exhibit that shows a lack of interest in the things around them.

5. Make a connection with the person

Someone who is contemplating suicide will often feel as though no one understands them and how they feel. You would like to make a connection with them so they don't feel so invisible or misunderstood. Showing the person that you hear what they are saying and help them feel as if they are not alone. Avoid telling them things will get better as this often will show that you aren't really listening to what they are saying. Be honest and tell them that although you may not understand fully what they are feeling, you are there for them to help in every way possible.

6. Make a plan

How to prevent suicide will require having a plan in place that will allow you to be more prepared on how to handle the warning signs and even suicide attempts. This plan should include a list of people who can check in on the person as well as numbers you'll need in case of an emergency. Having a team of people who care about the person will give the person the support they need. There are suicide safety plans that you can refer to that will help you give the person support the best way you can.

7. Encourage a healthy lifestyle

Staying healthy is necessary to help cope with mental illnesses. Someone who is suicidal is more likely to neglect themselves. Encourage them to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise or staying active, socializing, eating healthy, implementing a bedtime routine and a way to express themselves through journaling or learning a new hobby.

8. Let them know you are concerned

Letting your friend or loved one know that you are concerned about them can be the first step in opening up communication about how they are feeling. Simply letting them know that you are worried and that you want to help them and support them through whatever they are going through can help them be more open to seeking other forms of help.

9. Listen

Sometimes the best support you can provide someone who is thinking about suicide is to just listen. If they have given off some of the warning signs or verbalized some of the warning signs that indicate they could be suicidal, you'll want to stay with them. Be present and actually listen to what they have to say. You don't have to do much of the talking, but one of the ways to prevent suicide is to give the person your full attention without any distractions.

10. Professional help

You won't be able to solve all your friend's problems and there is only so much you can do to support them. Seeking professional help is the best thing you can do for your friend for answering how to prevent suicide. Encourage them to talk to a profession, attend a support group and volunteer to go with them if they don't want to go alone at first. If your friend refuses to seek any type of help, you can call a suicide prevention hotline to learn how you can better help them if they are not willing to help themselves.