Suicide

Speak up and reach out, you're not alone.

Overview

Suicide occurs twice as often as murder and is the tenth leading cause of death. It is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 and the second leading cause for people ages 25 to 34. Suicide rates have increased for middle-aged and older adults. One death occurs for every 4 attempts.

Suicide doesn't take away pain, it gives it to someone else

Most people who seriously consider suicide do not want to die. Rather, they see suicide as a solution to a problem and a way to end their pain. People who seriously consider suicide feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. A person who feels hopeless believes that no one can help with a particular event or problem. A person who feels helpless is immobilized and unable to take steps to solve problems. A person who feels worthless is overwhelmed with a sense of personal failure.

Warning Signs

Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain. Talking about being a burden to others. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly. Sleeping too little or too much. Withdrawn or feeling isolated. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge. Displaying extreme mood swings.

Misconceptions

FALSE: People who talk about suicide won't really do it.
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," "I can't see any way out," — no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

What to do

Start by asking questions


The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:

  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Have you thought about how you would do it?
  • Do you know when you would do it?

Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won't push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.


Look for warning signs


You can't always tell when a loved one or friend is considering suicide. But here are some common signs:

  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above


Get emergency help, if needed


If you believe someone is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt:

  • Don't leave the person alone.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what's going on.