It’s always disconcerting to see someone close to you struggling with depression and feelings of hopelessness. But how concerned should you be if the symptoms of depression persist, and when is the right time to say something or intervene on their behalf? It can be difficult to know when and how to act if a loved […]
It’s always disconcerting to see someone close to you struggling with depression and feelings of hopelessness. But how concerned should you be if the symptoms of depression persist, and when is the right time to say something or intervene on their behalf? It can be difficult to know when and how to act if a loved one’s demeanor and behavior have reached a crisis point.
Even if you know that person well, it can be hard to know where to draw the line because you don’t want to intrude on their thoughts and feelings if it’s not warranted, and if it’s not wanted. Fortunately, there are warning signs that indicate when someone is truly contemplating suicide. If a friend or relative is exhibiting certain signs, behaviorally or verbally, it’s important to take it seriously. Sometimes, these are indications that your loved one is reaching out for help, even if only subconsciously.
Recognizing the signs
Listen carefully to the language your friend uses. If he or she believe they feel trapped and can’t see a way out, or if the person says that everyone would be better off without him or her and spends an inordinate amount of time talking about death, the loved one is probably at risk for suicide.
Other signs may include reckless behavior, such as taking risks while driving in traffic or using drugs and alcohol excessively. If he or she starts giving personal items away or is getting their affairs in order by changing a will or paying off debts, it’s probably time to intervene.
In some cases, people suddenly exhibit a radical change, switching from profound depression to happy behavior, which may indicate they’ve decided to take action and are on the brink of suicide. If that’s the case, it’s time to let your loved one know how concerned you are, and seek help. Sometimes, just expressing your worries and showing that you care will elicit a heartfelt conversation that can prevent a tragedy.
How to help
First and foremost, take the danger of suicide seriously. Research has shown more than 75% of suicides gave some indication in the weeks prior to their death that they were contemplating killing themselves. If the signs are there, there’s good reason to be concerned.
Fortunately, there’s also reason for hope: the fact that the individual hasn’t taken the final step is an indication that there is a desire to live as well. That’s an opportunity to find the assistance they need. Try to encourage your loved one to seek out a therapist, family doctor, religious leader, or someone else they can speak to freely and without fear of judgment. Remind your friend that being depressed is not a personality defect or moral issue. It is a condition shared by many people (about one in 12 people in the United States deal with depression). And, make sure they know you’re there to help and that you’ll support them unconditionally.
Besides seeking professional help, your loved one can also develop positive habits to build confidence like avoiding self-criticism and spending less time living in the past. Taking up a new hobby can keep them engaged and focused on something new. Simply making some changes to their living space such as decluttering, adding indoor plants, and setting aside a room for meditation can give their mood a boost as well.
Your loved one also may have opened up to you because he or she believes you’ll be willing to help sooner than later. When the signs are there, delaying can be fatal. Take resolute action as soon as possible, taking comfort in the knowledge that your actions are in the best interest of someone you care about.
If the individual in question is suffering from substance abuse, bear in mind that it increases the likelihood they’ll resort to suicide. Studies have established a connection between the hopelessness of addiction and the darkness of depression. Addiction and depression comprise legitimate risk factors for suicide.
Depression is a long, dark hallway from which many people are unable to escape. It’s a feeling of utter hopelessness that often ends in a suicide attempt if not identified and acted on in time. If you know someone who’s acting and talking about suicide, take it seriously and intervene in a positive, non-judgmental way.
This article is brought to you by Sapphire Blue Solutions, where Dr. Nicole La Verne has worked hard to create a team of professionals that are compassionate and skilled at helping others. Whether you are dealing with such issues as anxiety, depression, addiction, loss, relationships, codependency, crisis, or others, our staff are ready to assist. At Sapphire Blue Solutions, staff work from a strengths-based, integrated client-centered approach. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!