Knowing a loved one is suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts is one of the hardest things we can experience. While many people keep their thoughts of suicide to themselves and don’t share them with anyone, there are some warning signs we can look out for that our loved ones may be feeling desperate enough to take their own lives. The more we prepare ourselves and educate ourselves about these warning signs, the faster we can respond when we are concerned for their safety.
Obvious signs of suicidal thoughts are communicating a desire to end one’s life, and we can be mindful that people might go about expressing this in countless different ways. They might say things like “I don’t want to be a burden to you anymore. I don’t deserve to be alive. My family is better off without me.” They might express that their shame is weighing them down and they can’t seem to forgive themselves. They might tell you their pain feels unmanageable and that they can’t bear it anymore. They might be struggling to cope with everyday life.
People who are suicidal might start to withdraw from their daily lives, from social interaction and from spending any time with their loved ones. They might start to cancel plans so often you haven’t laid eyes on them in months. They may avoid interaction altogether. They might cease all communication. They may start defaulting on their responsibilities, missing work, school or other obligations. They might start neglecting self-care. You might start to observe noticeable changes in their behaviors, responses or personalities. They might become more easily triggered or reactive. They may become more aggressive or volatile and act in ways that are unrecognizable. They may seem like entirely different people to you.
Because shame can be such a major factor in our suicidal thoughts, when someone is suicidal, they might start reaching out to people in an attempt to make amends for having hurt them. They might start issuing apologies years after the fact because they want the people they hurt to know their feelings before they die.
If you’re concerned your loved one is suicidal, show them you’re there for them and will help in any way you can. Help them find a therapist or treatment program as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to call a hotline or outreach group if they are in crisis.
Riverside Recovery is committed to treating co-occurring disorders such as depression alongside addiction recovery. Call (800) 871-5440 today for more information.