Signs of Suicide and How to Help Someone in Need

1:22 PM, Aug 20, 2017

Whether or not you grew up singing along with every word of “In the End,” deemed Linkin Park’s greatest hit by Billboard, you’ve likely heard the news that has shocked millions around the world. In July, it was announced that 41-year-old Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of the group that largely defined the music scene in the early 2000s, died by suicide.

As fans mourn by replaying Linkin Park’s most iconic songs (streams have increased 730 percent since the news circulated), the group itself has also honored Bennington with a site dedicated to sharing suicide prevention resources.

In order to prevent suicides, it’s important to recognize the signs that something’s wrong. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, on average, 112 Americans die by suicide each day, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24.

Whether it’s a close friend, family member, or even someone you barely know, here are some of the things to be on the lookout for.

Change in behavior and mood

One of the biggest indicators of suicide is a sudden change in behavior, according to Coraline Robinson, LMFT, program director of Balance Treatment Center’s San Luis Obispo Intensive Outpatient Program. A marked change in an individual’s behavior could be cause to worry – if a friend who’s usually outgoing and bubbly suddenly acts very differently, take note. While everyone has good and bad days, a significant change in behavior that persists could be a sign of something more serious than mood fluctuations.

Isolation from others

A hallmark of changed behavior often includes isolating one’s self from others, almost like a turtle that’s hiding in his shell. A lot of people with suicidal tendencies are at a desperate breaking point, Robinson says, and may stop communicating or interacting with others. Those suffering from unbearable depression or anxiety may turn to cancelling events, not answering calls or texts from friends or family, and completely withdrawing from socializing.

Expressing feelings of being a burden

Another strong indicator of suicidal thoughts, according to research, is feelings of “being a burden” to others. This may manifest as someone saying their friends or family would be better off without them or talking about how much unneeded stress or worry they cause others.

Lack of expression or emotion

Does someone you know look and act like they just don’t care anymore? Because it may be hard to communicate emotion while in the depths of despair, those thinking of suicide may stop expressing an emotion at all and instead appear flat and apathetic.

Planning or talking about plans to harm oneself

There are typically two types of suicidal ideations – in some, suicide is an impulsive behavior that becomes a reality after a breaking point with the warning signs described above; for others, though, suicide is premeditated and planned. Even those who may act impulsively might start to talk about their plans to harm themselves, and some go to the extreme of writing goodbye notes to loved ones or giving away prized possessions.

History of self-harm or suicide attempts

While a past of mental health or violence-related issues isn’t a sign itself, it does significantly increase an individual’s risk of suicide. So it’s especially important to be cognizant of any of the aforementioned signs from loved ones or friends with this kind of precedent.

If you notice these signs in someone you know, the most important thing is to let the person know you’re there to lend an ear and can help refer them to a professional, Robinson says.

“It’s important for the community to know that evidence shows the more we talk about suicide, the less it happens,” Robinson adds. “Sometimes people are afraid talking about it means it’ll happen, but really it’s the opposite.”

For more on preventing suicide and for information about therapy sessions, contact Balance Treatment Center

Balance Treatment Center’s programs include a fully licensed primary mental health residential center located in Calabasas and intensive outpatient programs in both Calabasas and San Luis Obispo. The team at Balance believes it’s important to open a dialogue and engage with family members of those suffering. By working together with other professionals in the industry to share innovations and collaborate on ideas, Balance continues the work to end the stigma of mental illness.

For more information, visit them online at BalanceTreatment.com or give them a call at (855) 414-8100.

In emergency situations requiring immediate attention please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts you can contact:

NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE USA – operating 24/7

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

NATIONAL DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT HOTLINE

1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)

SAN LUIS OBISPO SUICIDE HOTLINE:

Local Peer Crisis Line by TMHA – operating 24/7  

1-800-783-0607

SAN LUIS OBISPO CRISIS TEAM SERVICES:

San Luis Obispo County Mobile Crisis – operating 24/7

1-800-838-1381

Adult Mental Health – operating 9-5pm

1-805-781-4700

Youth Services Mental Health – operating 9-5

1-805-781-4179

Our Locations

San Luis Obispo

1551 Bishop Street, A-130
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(855) 414-8100
 

Calabasas

4505 Las Virgenes Road Suite 202
Calabasas , CA 91302
(855) 414-8100
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