SUICIDE is a death that can be prevented. It may be hard to understand how someone could think of suicide but unless you have experienced what they have experienced it is hard to imagine that is the solution. CAUSES for suicidal thoughts vary but there are some risk factors that include the following:
*History of previous suicide attempts
*Family history of suicide or suicide attempts
*History of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
*Drug or alcohol abuse
*Traumatic or stressful life events or changes
Stressful life events or changes are different for youth than adults.
For youth, it could be a breakup, failing grades, peer pressure, bullying, changes in family – divorce or separation, moving to a new area/school, or loss of a close family member like a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, not knowing how to handle a troubling situation, or pressures associated with college – career decisions, where to go, how to handle being away from their family/friend supports.
For adults, it could be a relationship break up, separation or divorce, being a family caregiver for a child/adult with health issues or disabilities, being a veteran or family of a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, aging with serious medical/physical issues, problems with employment or career – recessions, low crop/cattle prices, weather – hail/drought, staffing shortages, and of course the pandemic Covid with social isolation and changes in daily routines.
Knowing the warning signs or symptoms can help save a LIFE. Sometimes it can be hard to tell warning signs from so called “normal” behavior especially in adolescents as we may think it is part of the growing up process.
Warning Signs For Teens And Young Adults (Age 24 Or Younger)
•Drop in grades or worsening school/academic performance
•Fixation with death or violence – may be expressed in poetry, doodling, art work, violent music, violent video games or music
•Making comments regarding death/dying on social media
•Loss or change in friends
•Mood swings or changes in personality
•Signs of bruises/injuries that they refuse to discuss
•Engaging in risky behaviors – unprotected or promiscuous sex, drug and/or alcohol use, theft, vandalism or reckless driving
•Signs of an eating disorder – anorexia or bulimia
•Difficulty adjusting to their gender identity
•Signs of Depression which is a major symptom with its own signs
*declining school performance
*withdrawal from friends and extracurricular activities
*low energy, tired all the time with no apparent reason
*neglect of appearance/hygiene
*difficulty making decisions or inability to concentrate
*over reaction to criticism
*changes in eating or sleeping patterns
*use of alcohol/drug
Warning Signs For Adult
•Talking about or threatening to hurt or kill oneself
•Talking about death, dying or suicide
•Making statements of suicidal intent – “I’m just going to end it all” or “Everything would be easier if I wasn’t around” or “Everyone would be better off without me”
•Feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
•Feelings of rage, uncontrollable anger, or seeking revenge
•Dramatic mood changes
•No sense of purpose in life
•Acting reckless or engaging in risky behaviors
•Increase in alcohol/drug use
•Feeling anxious or depressed
•Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
•Withdrawing from family, friends – not going for coffee or not attending meetings, church
•Seeking firearms, drugs or other lethal means
•Putting their affairs in order
If anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, don’t ignore them. You wouldn’t ignore a high fever or stomach problems so don’t ignore this. Talk to them. Help them get the help they need.
Next week we will cover what you can do to help someone who may be having thoughts of suicide or is suicidal.