The Primary Risk Factors for Suicide and Suicide Signs to Watch For from Dr. MercolaIf you have a family history of suicide, have been exposed to suicidal behavior (such as from other family members or friends) or have suffered/witnessed physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence, your risk of suicidal behavior increases. And typically it's a combination of factors that leads to this desperate act. However, the primary risk factor for suicide is depression in combination with substance abuse, which could include alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs.
It's estimated that more than 90 percent of those who end up taking their own lives fit into this category.13 I know firsthand that depression and suicide are devastating. It takes a toll on the healthiest of families and can destroy lifelong friendships. Few things are harder in life than losing someone you love, especially to suicide.
Also be aware of the following red flags that someone has a high risk for self-harm. Besides straightforward or "sideways" comments about not wanting to live any longer, suicide signs to watch for in your teen (or anyone) include:
|✓ Acquiring a weapon||✓ Hoarding medication||✓ No plan for the future|
|✓ Loss of interest in extracurricular activities||✓ Changes in eating and sleeping habits||✓ Begins to neglect hygiene and personal appearance|
|✓ Declining grades in school and loss of interest in school||✓ Increased risk-taking behaviors||✓ Does not respond to praise|
|✓ Trouble concentrating or paying attention||✓ Frequent complaints of boredom||✓ Emotional distress leads to physical complaints of fatigue, migraines, pain, etc.|
|✓ Putting affairs in order||✓ Making or changing a will||✓ Giving away personal belongings|
|✓ Withdrawing from people|
How to Help Someone Who Is SuicidalA person who appears suicidal needs urgent professional help. Help the person to seek immediate assistance from their doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential suicide aids, including unsupervised access to medications.
If you’re not sure if someone is contemplating suicide, ask not directly about suicide but about how they’re feeling. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, Ph.D. of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explained to NPR:14
“If you're worried about somebody, ask. It's a little scary to ask, and you don't start off with, ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ You want to base your questions on what you've seen and what you notice. Like, ‘You seem very down lately and you're not with your friends. Is something going on? Are you feeling OK?’ or ‘You look kind of sad. Are you?’
Then the next step is to just listen to what they have to say and try to really hear them, and interact with them so they know you've heard and understood. These are not quick-fix problems, so even though as parents and friends we want to say, ‘Just snap out of it!’ or ‘It's not that big a deal!’ to that person at that time, it is a big deal.”If the person doesn't want to open up to you, try to find another trusted person - a friend, family member or school counselor, for instance who they may want to speak with. If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention.
If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department.