Identifying Someone Who May be Suicidal and How You Can Help

According to the CDC the leading cause of death in the USA is suicide. In nearly every state the suicide rates increased from 1999 to 2016.

Suicide is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.

Mental health conditions definitely apply to the risk of suicide but it is not always the only factor in a person who commits suicide.

Even though mental illnesses are becoming more recognized and talked about, many people who commit suicide were are not diagnosed with a mental health disorder at the time of their death.

There are many resources out there for anyone who may be considering suicide and people readily available to help.

If you or you know someone you think may be considering suicide it is important to reach out to those resources. These can include a family doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, a crisis hotline, support groups and so much more.

It can sometimes be hard to know that a person is considering suicide as they have learned to hide their feelings and present someone who is completely fine on the outside.

Just because someone is laughing, smiling and seeming to be doing well does not mean that on the inside they are facing life-threatening issues.

The CDC gives 12 warning signs that everyone should be aware of

  • Feeling like a burden.
  • Being isolated.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Increased substance use.
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

Feeling like someone may be considering suicide or knowing that they are making plans can leave you feeling helpless. This is not the case though. You can:

  • Ask the person how they are doing or be straight forward and ask if they are having and suicidal or self-harming thoughts.
  • Keep them safe by calling the crisis line for them and asking them to speak to someone, taking them to see a doctor or therapist. If they feel comfortable with you being in on the visit with a doctor or therapist being there to learn what you can do to help.
  • Just being there with the person. Reminding them that they are important to you and providing positive company for them. Often being alone and isolating just helps to fuel the suicidal thoughts as I have found for myself. Just having someone there can sometimes make a big difference.
  • Help them connect with the outside world and other people as well as support systems. Do some research and present them with some options for help. Often times when you are at a point of suicide you don’t have the thoughts to seek out help. From personal experience, everything in your mind is focused on the suicide attempt and you don’t see any way out of it.
  • Make sure that you are following up with the person to make sure that they are connecting with the proper people and receiving help. Simply suggesting something will usually just be brushed off and not pursued. If the person thinking about suicide knows that you are going to be following up with them they are more likely to at least attempt to seek help. I know this from personal experience as well. Knowing that my parents would be checking in with me to make sure that I went to appointments, took medications and sought out the help made me take those steps. In the beginning, I just did it so that I could tell them that yes I had seen the doctor or therapist, or talked to someone on the crisis line but after time the help those supports provided started sinking in and gave me the skills I needed to fight back against the suicidal ideations.

How to know if there is Imminent Danger

  • If you notice someone with these behaviors immediate care should be taken.
  • The person begins to put their affairs in order and begins to give away their possessions.
  • The person starts to say goodbye to family and friends.
  • The person’s mood makes a shift from despair to calm.
  • The person begins to plan for suicide by looking around to buy or borrow the tools that they need to commit suicide. These can be things like firearms, drugs or prescription medication.

If you notice any of these behaviors you should take immediate action to get the person help. These behaviors are usually a sign that they are ready and close to making an attempt at suicide.

Follow through with the person to make sure they receive the help they need, even if this means taking them into the hospital to have them admitted and assessed.

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Richard Bailey

I have suffered from severe chronic depression for just over two decades. I have gone through many treatments and all medications that the Dr.'s I work with have available to them but have been treatment resistant. I hope to help people and inform people on mental health and wellness through this blog.


  1. Richard,
    Your blog is moving and candid as well as helpful and informative. Take pride in your accomplishments and the honesty and vulnerability that you have shared so openly. Lifelong anxiety/depression is both difficult and tiring. It has been my battle for as long as I can remember. There a some peaks and many valleys! Thank you for exposing your pain in the hope that it will help others. Onward and upward my dear!

    • Hi Marlene,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. It always helps to hear that the information I am sharing is good information and informative to others. The battle is a hard battle and I am sorry to hear that you have to face that battle as well. I think it’s important to get the information out there for awareness and that’s why I also share my own story. I hope to start searching and finding some people to guest post their story with whatever mental illness they face to help with that awareness as well.

      Thank you again for taking the time to leave the comment, it is much appreciated.

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