The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the United States more than 36,000 people take their own lives every year. Eighty-five Americans die as a result of firearms daily — fifty-three of them are suicides.
While more suicides occur in the spring and autumn, rather than at Christmastime as is often reported, for the survivors of suicide, the holidays are the toughest time of the year.
If you or someone you know has been affected by suicide, you know how the wound is fresh every year. Please look for the following signs and, should you suspect someone may commit suicide, please find help.
Five Warning Signs Someone You Know May Be Planning Suicide
Frequently, people who are considering suicide will plan their own funeral or memorial service, make out their own will, or personally make rounds giving away favorite belongings.
2. Saying Goodbye
Many people will go out of their way to make contact with loved ones to bid them farewell. Survivors of suicide often recalled, in hindsight, that the victim appeared more emotional than usual when they said goodbye.
3. Having a Deathwish
Reckless behaviors, like intense unsafe sexual indulgences, substance abuse, and exhibiting a devil-may-care nonchalant attitude, are common. These downward spirals of self-destruction are often cries for help.
4. Acquiring the Means
The purchasing of weapons (specifically firearms), narcotics, or pills is a major warning sign.
5. Voicing Despair
Generally speaking, people who are considering suicide will actually say so. Phrases like, “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” and “Well, I won’t be around anyway,” should not go ignored.
What should you do?
Express concern, sans judgment, and simply ask them, “Have you been considering suicide?” Just let them tell you how they feel: Sometimes just talking about their depression and knowing someone cares can be helpful. Tell them that they are important to you and offer to help them receive proper — and free — care. And finally, give them the number of the Suicide Prevention Hotline and ask them to call. And follow up.
But the one thing you should know is that, like the Coldplay song, you can’t always fix someone. But you can at least try.