February 27, 2009

Recognizing possible warning signs can help to prevent suicides

Suicide warning signs include the following indications listed in A Balanced Life: Nine Strategies for Coping with the Mental Health Problems of a Loved One by Tom Smith:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself,
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.

Indirect warning signs include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless
  • Risky activities
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or sense of purpose in life.

(The toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. For more information about Tom Smith’s books or the Smith family’s ministry, log on to their Web site at www.KarlaSmithFoundation.org.)

(Related: Speakers: Education is key for families dealing with suicide)

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