The signs and symptoms of suicide risk are well documented, so it is important to take the time to know what to watch for and how to help. You could be the helpful friend or family member that aids and encourages someone to connect with needed professional services.
People face different challenges at different times of their lives, and according to the Mental Health First Aid manual some common factors associated with someone being suicidal are:
- Mental illness: People who are depressed are more likely to die by suicide. Depressive symptoms contribute to risk of suicide as the person may feel overwhelmed and helpless.
- Suicide risk is increased by alcohol or drug use - and in some cases, a combination of both.
- Certain age groups are more at-risk, typically adolescents and older adults.
- Males kill themselves more often than females although females attempt suicide three times as often.
- Lack of social support. For example, not having a spouse is a risk factor for males.
- The fact that other family members or significant persons have taken their lives by suicide.
Of the suicide risk assessments related to: gender, age, chronic physical illness, mental illness, use of alcohol and other substances, less social support, previous attempt and organized plan, it so happens that previous attempt and having an organized plan are the most significant factors. Having a plan means discussing specifically how someone might take his or her life.
What to watch for
A variety or warning signs of suicide are evident. They include:
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
- Seeking access to means
- Talking, writing or posting on social media about death dying or suicide
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling worthless or a lack of purpose
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
- Feeling trapped
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from family friends or society
- Demonstrating rage and anger or seeking revenge
- Appearing agitated
- Having a dramatic change in mood
Please keep in mind that some of these warning signs alone may not be related to suicidal ideation but fall under the context of life’s general pressures or what teens sometimes experience in the process of growing up. The Mental Health First Aid courses outline how to help and provides several exercises to teach skills in reaching out. One key point is to let the person know you are concerned and willing to help. Secondly, if a person has a plan and is a high risk for suicide, it is most important to stay with that individual until professional help arrives.
Mental Health First Aid courses are provided through Community Reach Center. Please register at Community Reach Center. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructs people how to identify, understand and respond to others experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This 8-hour class teaches recognition of risk factors and warning signs and how to provide basic, appropriate interventions for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day workshop that prepares caregivers to provide suicide life-assisting, first-aid intervention. Anyone 16 years and older are welcome to attend. Also, safeTALK is a three-hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. To register for ASIST, visit Community Reach Center. For safeTalk, training, visit Living Works.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we have a continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.