Suicide never affects only one person. It has a ripple effect on all who love, care for and know the one who lost their fight. One of the biggest impacts it leaves is the questions. It never brings closure. Those left behind wonder what they could have done differently or if something they said or did contribute. Blame gets passed from one person to another without ever knowing the truth because the truth is if our loved one had confided in us, or if we had understood what they were considering we would have gotten them help.
Before we go further if you or a loved one is in crisis and considering suicide reach out immediately for help. Please call 911 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or even chat with someone right now online.
How to spot the suicide warning signs
Here is my disclaimer. Hindsight is something we all are haunted by. After a loved one loses their battle, we begin to tear apart the past searching for any signs possible. This section is not to cast guilt or shame on anyone who is struggling in this way. Hindsight is 20/20 and provides false narratives of “if only I had…” You can not know the final result if you had acted differently. Once the suicide has happened the survivors have to learn to forgive themselves. Take care of yourself. Talk to a counselor and take the steps necessary to live your life to its fullest.
Now for the suicide warning signs.
There is no one cause of suicide. Just as every individual and life is different so are the causes that lead to this outcome. However, there are certain factors that lead to a higher risk of suicide that you and I can watch for in loved ones.
The following list was taken from SAVE.org:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
- Looking for a way to kill oneself;
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
- Talking about being a burden to others;
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
- Sleeping too little or too much;
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
- Displaying extreme mood swings
If you do see these signs in a loved one don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Ask him or her, “Are you thinking of hurting yourself or committing suicide?” Be blunt and honest. Don’t waste time with politeness. Instead, jump right to the fear and get it out of the way. “No,” will bring relief and offer you the chance to uncover what is going on. “Yes,” will spur you to action and get your loved one the necessary professional help.
Suicide’s impact on loved ones
A study conducted in 2016 discovered that depression and anxiety symptoms are higher in individuals who have experienced loss by suicide. It impacts everyone touched from close friends and family members to coworkers and service providers. The closer the person was to the individual the more likely they will experience these symptoms. In fact, those who have lost an individual to suicide are more likely to experience suicide ideation and posttraumatic stress.
Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide or are contemplating your own suicide know that there is hope. You may not be able to see that hope right now so let those around you point you towards it. You are loved and cherished friend. Please do not give up. Your life matters and will have a ripple effect felt in the lives of the people you love.