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Old September 22nd, 2007, 03:25
luciestorrs luciestorrs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 137
Default What are the warning signs?

On another thread Calypso reminded us to take all suicide threats seriously, and I posted the reply below. As this is a very important topic I am repeating it here, in its own thread, so it doesn't get 'lost'...

Here's more useful information about what to look our for, from the Suicide Risk Assessment page of the Light Beyond's grief library:

What are the warning signs?

Suicide prevention experts have initiated a host of risk factors and signs to watch for when assessing the likelihood of suicide. Most experts agree that more times than not, suicide victims leave clues as to their intentions, often referred to as "cries for help." These clues can be giving away possessions, good-bye notes, comments like "You won't have me to kick around anymore" and violent drawings. In addition, a suicidal person may exhibit behavior changes such as:
  • a change in appearance or hygiene
  • change in appetite
  • sleep disturbance
  • change in work or school performance
  • mood disturbance
  • risky behavior, and
  • pre-occupation with death.
If you are a friend or relative of a person you believe may be in trouble and contemplating taking his or her own life, it is wise to heed these warning signs and err on the side of caution. All too often we hear from family members or close friends the one sentence we hate to hear: "I didn't think he meant it."

The most important risk factors when assessing suicide

The professional tool utilized in suicide prevention is called a "risk assessment." A recent survey sent randomly to 500 practicing psychologists revealed their views of the most important risk factors in assessing suicide. They included, but are not limited to:
  • the medical seriousness of previous attempts
  • a history of suicide attempts
  • acute suicidal ideation
  • severe hopelessness
  • attraction to death
  • family history of suicide
  • acute overuse of drugs or alcohol, and
  • loss and separation.
Triggering events or situations may include medication issues and interactions, social triggers and events like the loss of a loved one, ostracism, divorce, trauma, anniversaries, media violence and change in employment status. If someone you know is talking about suicide and especially if he or she has a plan of how they might take their life, always let someone know. If you are concerned about someone you love, a good place to start is by talking to them and telling them that you care. Giving someone hope and letting them know they are loved goes a long way in helping suicidal people. Professional help is available through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

What else can you do if you are really worried about someone?

A very useful source of practical information, which is aimed at the suicidal themselves, is the Suicide: Read This First page. If you know of someone who is feeling suicidal, try to get them to read this page; it will only take about five minutes. For those of us trying to prevent suicide, it also contains Handling a call from a suicidal person, a very helpful ten-point list that you can print out and keep near your phone or computer, and What can I do to help someone who may be suicidal?
Lucie Storrs, creator of

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep: over 250 funeral poems, quotes and readings
If There's Anything I Can Do...: full of practical ways to help the bereaved
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 18:30
Calypso Calypso is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Midwest
Posts: 205

Thank you for re-posting this. It's very important information.

I think it bears repeating too that no one is "responsible" for another person's suicide. If you have a friend or family member who committed suicide, even if you missed some of the warning signs or didn't take a threat seriously, it's still not your fault.

And I say this both as a mental health professional and as someone who has attempted suicide. When I got to the point where I made my attempt, there was nothing that anyone could have said or done to stop me. That I survived was pure dumb luck.

So yes, by all means, reach out to people you know who show signs of depression, but please don't blame yourself if the worst happens.
Writers and readers are welcome at
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Old September 28th, 2007, 10:00
nangel78 nangel78 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 36

Thank you for sharing this information. This is really important to know. I have been recovering from depression so this helps for others to see as well.
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