Signs and Symptoms of Suicide

Behavioral changes, including becoming more isolated, could be a call for help.
Behavioral changes, including becoming more isolated, could be a call for help. (Image:

Approximately 40,000 suicides take place in the U.S. each year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means that every day in the U.S. more than 100 people die by their own hands. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, and the third among young people 10 to 24. From subtle symptoms to glaring signs that are hard to ignore, people considering suicide often give off warnings that something is wrong.

Approximately 40,000 successful suicides occur each year in the U.S. -- more than 100 a day.

Listen to the Words

If a friend or loved one begins making comments about wanting to die or demonstrates a preoccupation with death, such as searching online for methods of committing suicide, take these potential warnings seriously. For many people, especially younger adults, “talking” may come in a comment on social media.

Changes in Rouine

People contemplating suicide often withdraw from their normal routines and activities, or isolate themselves from friends and family. They can also express the view that they are a burden to others. These kind of behaviors may be linked to depression, and researchers have established a strong link between depression and suicide attempts in some cases. In addition, people at-risk of suicide may display changes in their sleeping patterns by either sleeping excessively, or the opposite: sleeping very little. Changes in sleep habits can be indicators of underlying mental health issues, including depression and bipolar disorder.

Expressing Pain and Hopelessness

Tremendous pain or a sense of hopelessness may be a precursor to suicide. The death of a close friend or loved one, or the end of a romantic relationship may push someone to contemplate taking his own life.

Acting Out in Unsafe Behaviors

CDC statistics point out that an estimated 1 out of every 15 drug-related emergency room visits involves a suicide attempt. Even more alarming, wrote Sameer Hindujaa and Justin W. Patchin is that "empirical studies and some high-profile anecdotal cases have demonstrated a link between suicidal ideation and experiences with bullying victimization or offending." Their work was published in the "Archives of Suicidal Research."

For people of all ages, increasing alcohol or drug use can indicate someone at increased risk for committing suicide. Noticing that someone is engaging in reckless or dangerous behaviors of any kind should not be overlooked.

Extreme Mood Swings

When people contemplate taking their lives, their emotions can also become extreme. Some may display anger toward a person or situation they consider unjust or unfair. Others may act anxious and agitated, or talk about seeking revenge for a wrong-doing. On the other hand, it is also common for people contemplating suicide to suddenly appear happy and calm.

Seeking Resolution

If someone you care about is giving away prized possessions and special gifts, sending goodbye message to friends and loved ones, and putting his affairs in order, talk to him. Those actions can be a precursor to a suicide attempt.

Highest Risk

Mental health researchers have identified factors such as a history of suicide attempts, having a close loved one or family member commit suicide, family history of depression or other mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, a stressful life event or recent loss, and having access to methods of suicide, including firearms and prescription medications as items that increase the chances of a suicide attempt. CDC. statistics show that over half of all suicides occur in men, ages 25 to 65. Among females, suicide rates are highest among women 45 to 54.

How to Get Help

If you or someone you know is thinking about committing suicide, get help by calling 911 or heading to the nearest emergency room. If this is not possible, tell a friend, family member or neighbor that you are in need of immediate help. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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