People contemplating suicide may not always explicitly mention depression or suicide, but their actions and behaviors can be important indicators of their mental health struggles. It's crucial to be attentive to signs and changes in their behavior, as these can be red flags for someone who might be in emotional distress or crisis.
Symptoms and behaviors
Common signs and symptoms that may suggest someone is struggling with their mental health or is at risk of suicide can include:
- Sleep problems such as insomnia or hypersomnia
- A loss of interest
- A change in appetite, either eating less or more
- Loss of concentration
- Irritability and anger
- Anxiety or pain
Behaviors associated with suicide might include:
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Risky behavior
- Acting out
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
If someone is experiencing these symptoms or exhibiting these behaviors for more than two weeks, they should seek medical help. If you believe a person may be a suicide risk or is in crisis, have them call or text 988 or make this contact with or for them.
One way to help someone who is struggling is by learning QPR, which is described as the CPR of suicide prevention. While QPR is intended to offer hope through positive action, it isn’t a replacement for counseling or treatment. QPR stands for:
Question. “Are you thinking about suicide or wanting to kill yourself?” Asking someone this question will NOT drive them toward suicide.
Persuade. “Will you let me assist you to get help right now?” Call a local mental health center, crisis hotline or emergency services. Stay with them until help arrives or a solution is resolved.
Refer. Refer the person to an appropriate resource. Resources may be an employee assistance program, a crisis hotline (988) or emergency services (911). If a threat isn’t imminent, help the person create a plan to seek therapy.
Check out these resources on how to support someone who is showing symptoms and behaviors related to suicide:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Eisenberg Family Depression Center
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Learn more about the symptoms and behaviors around suicide in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, Suicide Awareness with Eric Hipple. You can also sign up for future employer- or individual-focused webinars and guided meditations here.
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