Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., particularly among people younger than 35. While September is observed as National Suicide Prevention Month, every month should be. At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), we want to help you know potential warning signs a friend or loved one is contemplating suicide and how to assist that person to receive care.
Warning signs that a person is considering suicide
The National Institute of Mental Health advises that there are sometimes signs that a person is thinking about suicide.
They might talk about:
- Wanting to die
- Having great guilt or shame
- Being a burden to others
They may feel:
- Empty, hopeless, trapped or having no reason to live
- Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated or full of rage
- Unbearable emotional or physical pain
They may change their behavior:
- Make a plan or research ways to die
- Withdraw from friends, say goodbye, give away important items, make a will
- Take dangerous risks such as drive extremely fast
- Display extreme mood swings
- Eat or sleep more or less
- Use drugs or alcohol more often
What can you do?
You don’t need special training to have an open, authentic conversation about mental health. Often, just talking about it can be the first important step in staying connected for yourself or someone else, and helping get support or treatment, if needed.
- When someone is struggling, just listen without passing judgment or offering advice.
- Let the other person share at his or her own speed without interruption.
- Respond with kindness and care; always take the person seriously.
- Check back in and offer to connect her or him to help, if needed.
- Share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 800-273-TALK (8255).
Phrases that are helpful as you listen and support:
- “You are not alone. I’m here for you."
- “I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
- “We will get through this together.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) is committed to promoting Zero Suicide (a program of the Education Development Center, Suicide Prevention Resource Center and other organizations) by partnering with local community organizations to advance suicide prevention.