It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t walk the journey alone.
If you (or a loved one) are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, you are not alone. Reaching out for help takes a lot of courage and strength. Like most events in life, it is through human connection.
THE MORE YOU KNOW… about risk factors, associated behaviors, and protective factors known to be associated with suicide ideation and attempt, the better equipped you will be to recognize psychological distress within someone else or yourself. The following can play a critical role in the prevention of suicide attempt and loss.
NOTE: Risk factors place someone is at a heightened risk of suicidal thoughts, whereas a change in a person’s behaviors can indicate risk of suicidal thoughts, plans, or actions. Think of behaviors as an “outward expression” of what a person is thinking and feeling. Also, behaviors can be observed in individuals. Risk factors, however, can exist in both an individual as well as the community at large.
Risk factors are not the same thing as behaviors or warning signs and do not predict or cause suicide attempt. They are however influences that have been documented through research and shown to contribute to suicidal ideation, behaviors, and action. The more risk factors and observed behaviors, the greater potential and need to take lifesaving action and get help immediately.
Any of the following could be a pre-indication to a suicide attempt. New or increasing behaviors, otherwise considered out of the ordinary for a particular person should be of special concern. This is especially true following a significant and difficult life change. Not all suicidal individuals share verbal or written warnings with friends and family but 50-75% do. Some threaten multiple times without an attempt before action is taken. Every threat or questionable/unusual behavior should be taken seriously.
NOTE: Any communication (gesture, act, or threat) of suicide should be taken seriously, as individuals who are mentally well and stable are unlikely to make such statements. Helping someone experiencing a level of psychological pain that leads to verbalizing a desire to end their life (regardless of method or statistical severity of such method) should still be engaged with empathy and support. Healing from the risk factors and behaviors driving such statements and the desire to end an existing state of psychological pain is most easily embraced when language and communication style (tone, body language, etc) are non-threatening, non-judgmental, and pro-emPOWERment for the individual. Consider all threats of suicide, a desperate act of ‘asking for help” without verbalizing the need for support through healthy communication. Consider the root cause of the frustration, confusion, and elevated pain. Review the risk factors and behaviors above to identify those that are present and explore options for descalaing, treating, and healing each influence.