September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is a topic that many people feel uncomfortable discussing, even with friends and loved ones. But recognizing the signs, talking openly about experiences, and knowing how to get help are crucial for preventing suicide. Sometimes the signs are small and subtle. If we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open, we might be able to identify when a loved one needs help before it progresses to a desperate point. Learn the warning signs of suicide.
1. A person thinking about suicide may talk of despair and hopelessness.
Listen for talk about too many bad things piling up, or some particular situation being “the last straw.” Someone considering suicide may feel helpless and no longer in charge of their own life. They may not be able to see another way out of the pain that they or their loved ones are feeling.
2. They may appear to be preparing for departure.
A relative starts giving away their treasured clothes or jewelry. A co-worker decides to train a colleague to do their job. A friend calls you late at night to apologize for a rift that occurred years ago. Be on alert if, all of a sudden, someone you know starts tying up loose ends or giving you gifts that they “always wanted to give you.” Long-belated apologies or too many compliments may be a way of leaving an emotional gift behind. That special attention could be “goodbye” disguised as generosity.
3. They might talk or joke about different methods to complete suicide.
Take all talk of suicide seriously, even if it is couched in a joke. Pay attention. Is this behavior out of character? Is it something new? Is this person dealing with many difficulties? Rely on your emotional intelligence.
If you notice any of these signs, get your loved one connected to help. Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for accessible care and support. You can also reach out to Lyra, our mental health benefit provider for help and advice.