It happened almost fifteen years ago and yet that night still snakes into my memory every so often, especially when the weather outside mimics that mid-December night. It was that wet cold drizzle- the kind that seeped into your bones and hinted at the black ice to come in the morning. But the plummeting temperatures outside and rain was nothing compared to what was happening inside.
I was sitting erect, listening with every fiber of my being as the emergency room doctors, and nurses tried to save the life of someone I knew. A man who just a week ago had had the courage to face his fears and come out to his family and friends as gay was now laying on the stretcher, the contents of his stomach being pumped in the hopes of stopping the effect of the three bottles of sleeping pills he had ingested. I sat in the emergency room, knowing that someone I knew had tried to commit suicide and waiting to see if he would live. He did not.
Ever since that night, not surprisingly, the concept of suicide has been a sensitive one for me. Like millions of other people who are affected by suicide, my thoughts and feeling are colored by it. To this day I wonder if I could have done something different, noticed something more, or if perhaps I had no influence on the situation at all. What I do know is because of that cold drizzly night in December I learned to notice the warning signs of someone who is considering suicide. While it may seem cliche to say this it is but it is the absolute truth- pay attention. Someday what you read here could potentially save a life.
Warning Signs of Suicide Risk
If you, or someone you know start to show some or all of these behaviors, get in touch with a mental health professional, or a suicide prevention hotline for help. In the United States you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- The person talks about taking his or her life, or indicates the desire to cause harm to himself or herself.
- The person acts recklessly, and seems to have a complete and total disregard of personal safety and preservation.
- Tells you or indicates that there is no purpose in living anymore
- Having fantasies about committing suicide
Also other actions, often overlooked can be possible signs of a potential suicide risk. If you notice a friend or loved one does the following things, or shows these characteristics, keep your eye out for other warning signs.
- Has feelings of being unimportant or trapped
- Using drugs or alcohol more than what is normal for them
- Giving away valuable possessions.
- Admiring people who have died by suicide.
- Drastic changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- The desire to say goodbye to important people
- No longer has interest in the things they previously were passionate about.
If you feel you or someone is at risk, do not hesitate to get help. Here are some hotlines with trained people who are there 24/7 to help confidentially when you need it:
Trevor Project (LGBTQ) Lifeline: 866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE
Boys Town 1-800-3000
Teen Nineline Hotline: 1-800-999-9999