Suicide knows no boundaries. It is not easy to think about, let alone discuss, suicide—especially with someone who may be thinking about suicide. But it’s incredibly important to look for the signs and to prevent them from reaching a point of crisis. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there were approximately 1.38 million suicide attempts in 2019.
It’s not always possible to tell when a loved one is considering suicide. But there are some common signs. They talk about suicide; for example, they could say things such as “I’m going to kill myself,” or “I should’ve never been born.” Also, they may have a plan to take their life and talk about how they would commit suicide. They may have a specific plan—like using a gun or taking pills.
They do self-destructive things like using drugs or driving recklessly. In addition, they may have developed personality changes—they may be severely anxious or agitated—especially when experiencing any of the other warning signs listed above.
Some risk factors include a previous suicide attempt, family history of attempted or completed suicide, history of trauma or abuse, and chronic pain or a serious medical condition. Stressors such as losing someone close, financial loss, divorce, addiction, trouble with the law, and bullying can make people susceptible to suicide.
Does a friend or family member exhibit any warning signs or risk factors? Don’t ignore the situation. Let the person know that they are not alone and that they can get help. Ask if they have a plan. If they do, ask them for a commitment to not hurt themselves. Let them know it is good to ask for help.
When someone’s life is at stake, however, always err on the side of caution. Unsure of what to do next?
If they are threatening to harm themselves, call 9-1-1. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; it’s a toll-free hotline that provides 24/7 service. Offer to take them to the hospital for an evaluation.
Encourage them to see a therapist, and let them know they are not alone. Pray for them, and let them know there is always help and hope for their life.
Call New Life Ministries at 800-639-5433 to find a licensed counselor in their area, or purchase Getting Beyond Suicide, the New Life Perspectives CD.
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By Kimberlee Bousman