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People with suicidal thoughts may have early signs. Here’s what to see

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Justin Baker, clinical director of the Veterans Injury and Suicide Reduction Initiative at Ohio State University, USA, said: Center.

“It was very, very difficult,” he said. “You can look back at a time, when someone tried or died, and say, ‘Oh, look back at all of this that happened in their life.’ The difficulty is that a lot of people also process or experience those kinds of stressors but never go on (suicide attempt).”

Also, there isn’t always a long period of time during which someone is considering suicide and showing signs – and there can be only 5 to 15 minutes between a person deciding to commit suicide and taking it. it, Baker added.

“What we generally understand is that it’s an emotional adjustment disorder and cognitive errors occur,” says Baker. “They can’t deal with the situation or can’t think in their own way for the situation, so suicide becomes a viable option as a way to manage the pain they’re experiencing. So they do. can really act short, concise window.”

But there are some situations in which a person commits suicide and plans for a longer period of time will have behavioral changes, Baker added.

“If you’re noticing those things, it’s clearly someone really close to imminent danger – someone really close to making the decision to end their life,” he said. “But I suppose most people don’t get such a warning.”

If you think you or someone you know is in danger, counselors trained with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 can help you overcome any signs you are experiencing or seeing. see. To increase its accessibility, every state will roll out 988 as a new lifeline starting July 16. The current phone number is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and it will always be available to those in emotional distress or a suicide crisis, according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Here are some of the most common behavioral, verbal and emotional signs and risk factors you should look out for, according to experts.

Behaviors that need attention

Michael Roeske, clinical psychologist and senior director of the Newport Healthcare Center for Research & Innovation.

Those may include practicing or preparing for suicide, which may appear to exhibit unusual behavior with guns, drugs, or other potentially lethal objects, according to the report. SAMHSA.
The upcoming 988 suicide prevention hotline plans a pilot program specifically for the LGBTQ community

According to Roeske, Baker, and SAMHSA, other potential red flags of behavior include giving away valuables, sleeping too much or too little, withdrawing or isolating yourself, and expressing anger or desire. revenge, and acting anxious or agitated, according to Roeske, Baker and SAMHSA. Roeske says being really drunk one night or reckless driving can also be signs to look out for.

Such behavior could mean they’re “testing themselves to see if they can really do it,” Baker said. “A lot of times people need to try to get to that fact because it’s a biological thing that you have to fight against, your own survival.”

Regarding comments

Roeske talks about wanting to die — by suicide or otherwise — as another warning sign that should always be taken seriously, Roeske said. Comments like these are sometimes just an expression of discomfort, pain, boredom, or a desire to be close rather than a reflection of actually wanting to die, but that doesn’t mean you don’t follow the creator. them, he added.

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Some people may say that they feel there is no reason to live. “If someone is struggling to find a reason to live, that is someone who is at a much higher risk than someone who can even identify one,” says Baker.

Others talk of feeling like a burden to those close to them, Roeske said, or as if they don’t belong anywhere or to anyone. Such comments may include “You don’t need me to do this anymore” or “I would feel better if I weren’t here.” Teens who are contemplating suicide may not want their guardians to use their money for college, he added.

Mood and other risk factors

Psychological factors, traumatic situations, or genetics can increase the likelihood that someone is considering, trying, or dying by suicide, according to SAMHSA. These risk factors cannot cause or predict a suicide attempt, but being aware of them is important, according to SAMHSA:
  • Hopeless. “They have no sense of a better future, or they feel it’s really inconceivable not to endure the pain they’re going through,” says Roeske.
  • Extreme mood swings. This includes if someone who is normally really stressed or depressed suddenly seems calm or happy, according to Roeske and Johns Hopkins Medicines. This person may have decided to commit suicide without telling anyone, and they are relieved by that. Also showing this is the euphoria after a depressive episode.
  • The phobia of death or the means of death. Some people have more challenging artistic or musical interests than others, but if their attachment to those things is beyond what’s normal for them, that’s worrisome, Roeske says.
  • Experiencing abuse, neglect, or other trauma
  • Substance abuse problem
  • Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety, and personality disorders, especially in the absence of treatment
  • Serious physical illnesses, including chronic pain. “Especially if it is stubborn and very difficult to treat, people can become very desperate,” says Roeske. “It’s really just, ‘I don’t want to feel this anymore and I can’t find any other way. I feel trapped.'”
  • Family or personal history of suicide. “The biggest predictor of completed suicide is past suicide attempts – the reason is because you will see an increase in the likelihood of death or the means by which someone commits suicide,” says Roeske. do that,” said Roeske.
  • Loss of job or finances
  • Problems or loss in the relationship
  • Loss of interest in activities or school
  • Prolonged stress from other causes, such as harassment or bullying
  • Easy access to potentially fatal vehicles
  • Exposure to a suicide or graphic or sensational accounts of suicide. “On the one hand, we don’t want people to shy away from the topic of suicide. We want people to reach out and even use the word with other people and discuss it,” Roeske said. But if a gratuitous description or account romanticizes or justifies the feeling of relief that can be obtained after suicide, that’s the problem.
  • Insufficient social support or feelings of isolation


If any of these signs work for you, seek professional help and talk to someone you can trust and feel supported by, Baker says. Psychotherapy and certain psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, can help, says Roeske.

If a loved one shows signs they may be at risk of suicide, “it’s not really up to you to predict the future,” says Baker. But you can be supportive and intentionally ask them what’s going on, Roeske and Baker say.

“You’re not going to get someone to commit suicide by asking directly about suicide,” Baker said. “The worst thing they’ll say is ‘no’ and don’t be offended. If yes, ask them. I’d rather let someone insult me ​​than die.”

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When testing someone, use what experts call a narrative, person-centered approach, Baker recommends. It might seem like an open-ended question: “Hey, I’ve noticed that life has become overwhelming the past few days. Would you like to tell me about that?”

When the person responds, you can, to some extent, listen, appreciate them sharing their story, and offer to figure it out together without offering advice on how to do it. handle, Baker said. But if your loved one seems more at risk or is in the process of attempting suicide, “you don’t have the time or the luxury to consult with them,” he adds. Get medical care or call 911.

When Roeske first started working as a clinician, he had a young female patient, a very successful equestrian, attended a prestigious school, and had many family resources, he said — but she had been chronically suicidal for 10 to 15 years. , since she was a teenager.

“Every time she went to her mom and told her that, her mom would (say things like) ‘Oh, you’re beautiful. Look how you’re doing with the horses,'” Roeske said. “And (the patient) said, ‘How does it feel to be scared of what I’m saying and need to stay away from it.’

She says therapists will do the same thing – you know, ‘create a positive gratitude list or correct your cognitive biases.’ Finally, there was a psychiatrist who looked at her as she said, ‘I think I’m going to kill myself.’ And the psychiatrist said, ‘I think you can too.’ And she said it was the first time someone was willing to be there with her. “

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When talking to someone who is suicidal, Roeske says, you might want to tell them all the great reasons why they should survive — but it can actually make them feel more alone.

If you are worried about someone living in your family, reduce your chances of a suicide attempt by restrict access to or remove potentially lethal items like guns or drugs, Roeske said. Just hiding a gun is not an adequate precaution, the experts said.

Unfortunately, “we can’t predict who will die by suicide more than who will be in a car accident,” Baker said. “This is not going to ease grief for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, but hopefully it will help alleviate some of the guilt and responsibility.”

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this story.

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