8 Signs Someone Is at Risk of Suicide
What to watch for
Suicide and suicidal thinking are more widespread than you might think. According to the results of a government survey released in September 2015, roughly 9.4 million adults—or about 3.9% of the population age 18 and older—had "serious thoughts of suicide" in 2014.
It can be hard to identify suicidal thinking in a loved one; there is no foolproof checklist to follow. But here are some warnings signs that might mean they are at risk.
Talking about suicide
He may be at risk for a suicide attempt, particularly if he feels trapped or hopeless and is withdrawing from friends and family.
Don't leave that person alone, let him know you're going to get help, and call 1-800-273-TALK to be connected to a crisis center, says the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A bipolar or depression diagnosis
"Depression is the leading illness for suicide, so the deeper the depression gets or the longer it goes on, the more discouraged the person experiencing it feels," says Paula Clayton, MD, the medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In bipolar disordera condition in which bouts of depression are interspersed with periods of maniasuicide risk may be higher when the person is depressed.
Feelings of guilt
"You start to feel guilty about thingsletting people downand someone else who's listening would say, 'But you're not,'" says Gould. "It's just this very unrealistic guilt."
Drinking or drug use
Substance use can also contribute to impulsivity, Dr. Clayton adds. Studies have shown that up to 80% of all suicide attempts are done on the spur of the moment, with very little planning.
The other half have "agitated depression." Anxiety is the main symptom, says Dr. Robbins, but these people may also experience restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and trouble focusing.
"People who are agitated are more at risk for suicide because anxiety is so uncomfortable," says Dr. Robbins.
Buying a firearm
"Two to one, men complete suicide more often than women," says Dr. Robbins. "And it's largely because of the method they choose, not because of the intent that they have. Men tend to use firearms; women tend to take overdoses."
Although most people think teens are at higher risk of suicide than others in the population, it's actually adults who are at greatest risk. In 2015, adults ages 45 to 64 had the highest suicide rate, at 19.6%, followed by adults 85 and older, who had a suicide rate of 19.4%, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Depression isn't a normal part of aging, but a chronic health condition, a loss of independence, or problems with vision or hearing can increase the risk.
Asking about suicidal impulses does not "put ideas" in a person's head, says Dr. Robbins. If you're concerned about suicide, you need to ask the person about it directly. If the person has access to guns, medications, or other items that could be used for self-harm, get rid of them. Most importantly, you should contact a health professional.