Suicide warning signs

From, a non-profit organization for the prevention of suicides:

"Warning Signs of Suicide
[li]Ideation (thinking about suicide)[/li][li]Substance use or abuse (increased or change in substance)[/li][li]Puposelessness (no sense of purpose or belonging)[/li][li]Anger[/li][li]Trapped (feeling like there is no way out)[/li][li]Hopelessness (there is nothing to live for, no hope or optimism)[/li][li]Withdrawal (from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies)[/li][li]Anxiety (restlessness, irritability)[/li][li]Recklessness (high risk-taking behavior)[/li][li]Mood disturbance (dramatic change in mood)[/ul]Additional Warning Signs of Suicide[/li][ul]
[li]Talking about suicide.[/li][li]Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness.[/li][li]Preoccupation with death.[/li][li]Suddenly happier, calmer.[/li][li]Loss of interest in things one cares about.[/li][li]Visiting or calling people one cares about.[/li][li]Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.[/li][li]Giving things away, such as prized possessions.[/ul]A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional."[/li]
Keep in mind that depression is an illness like any other physical illness so respond appropriately. And like many other physical illnesses depression can lead to death through suicide.

I kind of worry about one of my oldest friends, who probably hits half the warning signs and has even said that if things hit rock bottom, he’ll just kill himself. But then he’s been saying that for over 15 years now, so everyone’s reaction has pretty much become “Yeah, yeah…” But then again things have been getting steadily worse for him over the last 7 years or so, and maybe he’s more serious than people think and will cross that threshold without anybody noticing…

I just don’t know what I could do, especially now that I don’t even live near him. I can visit three or four times a year, and everything’s great on those trips, but the rest of the time he’s rather withdrawn and hardly ever talks to any of us, and I often only hear bits of news second-hand. We’ve also never really pried into each other on a personal level much, and are mainly gaming-and-shop-talk buddies, so it’s a bit out of our comfort zone, too.

Much respect for the post, though your motives are unclear (I mean why you are posting it now). But this line is a bit odd because it sounds like you are saying physical illnesses can lead to suicide.

Still, as the spouse of someone with depression, this is helpful. Thanks.

Edit: Nevermind. Missed the other thread. I see why you posted it. Thanks.

Sometimes people just up and commit suicide without any of these signs. Really. Not all suicides are premeditated with enough time for any of these signs to be apparent.

My advice to people with friends? Be friendly with your friends, so that you have good memories and few regrets no matter what curveballs you get thrown.

I really suspect this is very true, and that the mental illness symptoms in the screening guidelines are overemphasized because we assume that anyone who commits suicide must be mentally ill because only a mentally ill person would commit suicide. I suspect dramatic downturns in fortune can cause an otherwise healthy person to commit suicide. I think these warning signs describe depressed individuals, not necessarily suicidal ones.

I’ve suffered from depression and what they call suicidal ideation. I’ve never had any intent or plan to hurt myself, and I consider any such action extremely unlikely on my part, but there have been times when I’ve thought about it compulsively. For me, the best thing was finding a doctor and therapist who wouldn’t send me to the ER when I confessed feeling that way. My therapist called them “morbid ruminations,” and basically went out of her way to help me feel like it wasn’t that unusual for someone with depression to think about death but it didn’t necessarily make me suicidal either.

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with flinging my body out the third floor window of my bedroom. I remember an abstract painter who did a bunch of paintings of Olympic athletes for a McDonald’s ad campaign in the 70s. I would chomp my quarterpounder and stare at the poster of the athlete doing the swan dive. But then one day I realized the fall might not kill me, but paralyze me, which would mean that after all the hoopla at the hospital they would haul me back up to the third floor and dump me in my bed, and everything would be just exactly the same, except that I might no longer be able to scratch my nose.

I like Roger’s advice. :)

Will vouch for this being very, very true.

Without going into details, I went from extremely happy with my life to an ER in the span of two hours. Those two hours were enough to develop a full-on severe depressive episode.

So, yeah, follow Roger’s advice as much as you can.

On second thought…

I agree with the ending advice, Roger, but I think your post trivializes the fact that, as near as we can tell, about half of the people who suicide have a mental disorder, with mood disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder) being the most common. Many of the signs posted by Lorini are symptoms of depression (& substance abuse, another category of disorders with increased suicide risk).

Folks have massive heart attacks without any signs, but that doesn’t mean that lists of tips to reduce cardiac risk factors (e.g., maintain healthy body weight, don’t smoke, visit physicians regularly) aren’t helpful. If more people adopted the habits, we’d have a lower prevalence & incidence of heart attacks.

Similarly, if more people felt comfortable expressing their concern for friends and family who exhibited these signs, maybe the national rate of suicide would decrease (currently #11 in causes of death according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, & likely underestimated since some suspicious deaths may be suicides but aren’t officially ruled as such).

I’m sure most of us have lost friends & acquaintances to suicide, & I’ve lost a client to it as well. Maybe I’m hypersensitive because October is National Depression Awareness Month, but I certainly wouldn’t mind fewer of these losses in the future.

This is a valuable thread, Rimbo notwithstanding. It’s refreshing to see that some people can still discuss important issues seriously on the Internet.

The one time I was bottle-in-one-hand-gun-in-the-other suicidal (about 9 years ago) was like this. My life had gone from pretty stellar to complete disaster in about two days. I suffered from severe depression and anxiety crawling out of my hole, not going into it. I was a very angry person for a long time and I think that the primary reason was that the people with whom I had surrounded myself at the time weren’t my friends as R-dub suggests above. Thus, my anecdote (not data lol) is to agree with this.

I can’t imagine going from happy to suicidal in two days. That really stinks. The stories are popping up though, of people losing everything in the market and such and just deciding to end it. Sad.

I don’t know about this. We should be concerned that suicide rates haven’t dropped. But let’s face it, we’ve spent millions on suicide prevention efforts, hotlines, awareness efforts, and on the distribution of warning signs lists like these. There’s no evidence that it’s had any impact on suicide rates. Also, I’m concerned about how good the warning signs list posted by Lorini really are (which are, of course, quite widely distributed). I read an article by the American Association of Suicidology that suggested that listing the symptoms of depression leads to many false positives. Certainly, we should be better safe than sorry, but these lists aren’t really good at pinpointing the kind of “action steps” a person about to commit suicide takes. That’s hard to do when suicide is a snap decision. The AAS warning signs seem better, and the advice is particularly good, especially the part about removing means.

I have no doubt that we need to be aware of symptoms of depression and be available and non-judgemental when depressed friends need help. But it’s pretty clear to me that it’s not enough to prevent suicide, and because mentally healthy individuals commit suicide in moments of complete, acute despair.

So, really, recognize depression and take care of people who are depressed. That’s good no matter whether or not they’re at risk for suicide. But also be available and there for people who have suffered some sort of trauma, whether it’s the death of a loved one or the loss of a job or the failure of a business. And make sure they don’t buy a gun.

From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
[li]Psychiatric Disorders[/li]At least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illnesses – such as major depression, bipolar depression, or some other depressive illness, including:
Alcohol or drug abuse, particularly when combined with depression
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or some other anxiety disorder
Bulimia or anorexia nervousa
Personality disorders especially borderline or antisocial
[li]Past History of Attempted Suicide[/li]Between 20 and 50 percent of people who kill themselves had previously attempted suicide. Those who have made serious suicide attempts are at a much higher risk for actually taking their lives.
[li]Genetic Predisposition[/li]Family history of suicide, suicide attempts, depression or other psychiatric illness.
[li]Neurotransmitters[/li]A clear relationship has been demonstrated between low concentrations of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleactic acid (5-HIAA) in cerebrospinal fluid and an increased incidence of attempted and completed suicide in psychiatric patients.
[li]Impulsivity [/li]Impulsive individuals are more apt to act on suicidal impulses.
[li]Demographics[/li]Sex: Males are three to five times more likely to commit suicide than females.
Age: Elderly Caucasian males have the highest suicide rates.[/ul][B]Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, taking those signs seriously and knowing how to respond to them."


I’m very suspicious of the 90 percent number. For years, psychologists and doctors associated attempted suicide with clinical depression. That combined with the difficulty of properly diagnosing depression (as a treatable illness versus a mental state) could skew the numbers.

I’m skeptical that the data really exists to know what warnings signs should be. Unless you are very careful, there’s a sampling problem (and often a causation problem) – just because x% of suicides are depressed (or whatever) doesn’t mean depressed people commit suicide at a higher than normal rate.

But I think it’s common sense that if you see someone with plausible warning signs, you try to help if you can. Knowing how to help can be hard. A lot of folks who suffer from depression isolate – not because they don’t appreciate contact, exactly, but because they find it impossible to believe that any sane human would want to contact them. (I am speaking from bitter experience here.)

It really bugs me that Dundee is gone. He was one of those rare online voices I liked immediately.

I thought this was going to be about the NFL Suicide League. “You might be a suicide league addict if…” Instead you are bringing me face to face with several warning signs that I resemble. Bastards.