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Warning Signs: Is your loved one experiencing suicidal thoughts?

Are you worried that someone you know might be grappling with suicidal thoughts, but unsure how to confirm, communicate, or provide assistance? You're not alone. Many individuals find themselves in this situation once they recognize potential signs of distress in a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague. So, what can you do to equip yourself with the knowledge and tools necessary to offer support and ensure safety? Let's talk: suicide prevention.


Situational Clues:

First and foremost, it's important to recognize that every individual is different, and reactions to situations vary widely. Understanding that most people who experience suicidal ideation may communicate their intentions in various ways—often non-verbally—is key.

Here are some situational clues or risk factors to be aware of:

- Trauma or neglect

- Job loss or lack of promotion

- Financial hardship

- Chronic illness or pain

- Relationship/social issues

- Military service/combat experience


While experiencing these factors doesn't guarantee suicidal behavior, it does heighten the risk. Offering your presence and acknowledgment during difficult times can provide much-needed hope and deter suicidal thoughts. Additionally, it's essential to recognize that these are just a few examples, and numerous situations can lead to suicidal tendencies. Stay vigilant and supportive of those around you.


Behavioral Clues

Another critical aspect is observing behavioral clues, as individuals often convey their distress through actions, body language, and written or verbal expressions.

These may include:

- Changes in sleep patterns

- Increased substance use

- Acquiring lethal means (e.g., purchasing a firearm or stockpiling medication)

- Unexplained irritability or agitation

- Episodes of depression or hopelessness

- Giving away prized possessions

- Organizing personal affairs


Verbal Clues:

These indicators, while not exhaustive, warrant attention and prompt action when noticed.

Additionally, individuals may directly or indirectly express their suicidal thoughts through statements like:

- "I wish I could just disappear."

- "What's the point of going on?"

- "I can't see a future; I feel hopeless."

- "I don't think I can go on."

- "You won't have to worry about me much longer."


Provide Support:

Recognize these as signs of struggle and offer hope through supportive gestures such as verbal affirmations or physical touch.

Here are some verbal and non-verbal ways in which you can provide hope for your loved one:

  • “I’m here with you and I want to see you live.”

  • “I want you to know that I care about you and would like to help you.”

  • “I don’t want anything to happen to you, will you let me help you?”

  • Offer physical touch such as holding a hand, resting a hand on their shoulder or even a hug

Seek Professional Help:

However, providing hope is just one aspect; ensuring access to resources and care coordination is equally crucial. In times of uncertainty, don't hesitate to dial 988 (press 1 for Veterans) to speak with a trained professional for suicide prevention. Text and online chat options are also available.

When it comes to helping a loved one through a mental health crisis, offering practical support such as transportation or assistance with making necessary calls and appointments can make a significant difference. Remember, you don't need to be an expert to prevent suicide; all it takes is noticing signs of distress and taking action. Suicide is preventable, but only if we collectively prioritize safety and support.


If you're interested in learning more on suicide prevention, explore our FREE online course catalog for self-study. Additionally, if you or your organization wish to attend or host an in-person QPR Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention training in Yuma, AZ, reach out to us or check our calendar for upcoming events.


Together, let's take steps to keep our community safe and supported.

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