My friend is going through a tough time. How do I know if they are thinking about suicide?


Mental illness is often met with a lot of stigma, meaning there are a lot of negative associations and judgments people have towards these types of struggles. This can make it very hard for someone suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide to talk about what they are experiencing. While it may be hard for our friends and loved ones to tell us when they are going through these things, there are some signs we can look out for that will let us know something serious is going on, and that our friend or loved one might be considering suicide. These include verbal signs, or things that someone might say, behavioral signs, or things that someone might do, and moods someone might be in.
Signs of Suicide
Verbal: talking about being a burden, feeling trapped, having no reason to live, completing suicide, or talking at length about experiences of pain
Behavior: increased use of drugs and alcohol (or for someone who has never used these substances, starting to use drugs and alcohol), searching for how to complete suicide, engaging in reckless behaviors (e.g. drinking and driving), withdrawing socially, saying goodbye to people and/or giving away important possessions.
Mood: Depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, and excessive anxiety.
It is important to understand that noticing a single sign, or even multiple signs does not guarantee a person is considering suicide. But these signs point to the fact that the person is struggling with something very serious, and it is important that we ask them what is going on for them, and if they are thinking about suicide. Asking directly about suicide helps reduce the stigma associated with these thoughts, and can let the person know you are a safe person to open up to.