Six Subtle Warning Signs of Suicide
| 3 min read
Dr. Kristyn Gregory, D.O., is a medical director of behavioral health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Dr. Gregory received her medical degree from the Chicago School of Osteopathic Medicine. She then completed residency training in Adult Psychiatry at Henry Ford, and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Wayne State University. She is board-certified in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She has practiced in a variety of settings in the metro Detroit area including inpatient, residential, outpatient, school-based and juvenile justice programs.
- Depersonalization: Not to be mistaken for depersonalization disorder, a person contemplating suicide may seem detached or unemotional in everyday life. This can be particularly noticeable in situations when he/she would otherwise express feelings of joy or sadness. For example, a person who’s normally excited to spend time with friends, or cry during a sad movie, may act indifferent towards these experiences.
- Irregular Sleeping Patterns: Sleeping too much or too little is often linked to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. However, according to the National Library of Medicine, it’s also considered an independent risk factor of suicide for people of all ages. For this reason, sleep disturbances, whether it’s insomnia or hypersomnia, should signal loved ones to intervene.
- Isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, everyday activities and social events can be a strong indicator of suicidal ideations. Encouraging socialization, even if it’s one-on-one, can help deter suicidal thoughts or behaviors from escalating. Most importantly, it’s crucial to offer support to an individual isolating themselves and determine if he/she is considering self-harm or needs to address feelings of loneliness, anxiousness or depression.
- Lack of Concentration: Though some may associate mental illness with an inability to function, many people suffer in silence as they carry on with day-to-day responsibilities at work, school and home. Knowing this, it’s important to be on the lookout for a robotic demeanor or difficulties focusing. Confusion, indecisiveness and restlessness are also considered risk factors.
- Mood Changes: In some cases, a person struggling with their mental health will cycle through extreme emotions. Happiness turns into euphoria, anger becomes rage, sadness develops into depression, hopelessness or negative self-talk. Friends and family looking to address a loved one displaying shifts in attitude should do so in a calm, supportive manner.
- Physical Pain: Because physical and mental health go hand-in-hand, chronic depression often manifests into symptoms of bodily pain. Be alert with those who complain of headaches, stomach aches, unexplainable lethargy, appetite changes and other physical ailments. Of course, self-injury is directly linked to suicidal ideations and should be addressed immediately.
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