Picking up on suicide warning signs in a loved one can make an enormous difference for this person, by helping them get the support they need as soon as possible. But identifying if and when your friend is feeling suicidal isn’t always easy.
Here are a few key indicators to look out for in your friend, especially if he or she has any major risk factors for suicidal ideation (including a history of trauma or abuse, a family history of suicide, a recent major life stressor such as a divorce or death of a loved one, or severe depression or other mental health condition):
- Your friend may begin to give away things or say goodbye to people.
- She may withdraw socially and stop doing things she once loved.
- He may express feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, feeling like a burden, or seem irritable and angry.
- He may talk about hurting himself or begin researching ways to end life.
- He may exhibit changes in sleeping, eating, or self-care behaviors (e.g., lack of bathing and grooming) or become more involved in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse or reckless driving.
How to Help a Friend Experiencing Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
You believe your friend is experiencing depression and/or having suicidal thoughts. You want to reach out and offer your support, but you’re not sure how to do this without making them feel alienated or uncomfortable.
Here are a few tips:
- Be kind and non-judgmental. Let them know you’re concerned for their well-being and that you are here to listen openly to them if they need to talk.
- Be direct. It’s okay and important to be upfront with your friend if you believe she is thinking of suicide. This reduces the stigma about feeling suicidal and lets your friend know it’s okay to open up about it.
- Focus on empathy and support rather than “problem-solving.” Listen to your friend and communicate with her that you are here to help in any way you can. Don’t try to minimize or fix her problems, but give support such as offering to go for a walk together, clean their room together, or contact other resources together such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or our team at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital.
Is Your Friend Feeling Suicidal?
Are you concerned about a friend who is exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts?
Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for 24/7 assistance from trained crisis professionals. If you believe your friend is in crisis and at risk for harming himself or herself, call 911 immediately.
We offer 24/7 no-cost assessments in our facility for your convenience. If you or a loved one is struggling, please contact us at 844-991-9900 for more information.