How Can I Tell When a Loved One Might Be Suicidal?

How Can I Tell When a Loved One Might Be Suicidal?

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

When a loved one is suicidal, it can be a painful and terrifying experience for us, but we don’t always know when they’re in that much pain. One would think that we would know when someone we’re close to was suffering, but suicidal thoughts, ideation and urges are often something that we keep to ourselves and don’t disclose to anyone, especially the people we know will be most worried about us. Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are often very hard for us to talk about. We feel ashamed of ourselves for them. We feel disappointed in ourselves. We blame ourselves for being unwell. When our loved ones aren’t talking to us about their feelings, or their mental illnesses, how can we tell when they might be suicidal? What are some warning signs that they might be suffering?

When someone wants to make it clear to us that they are suicidal, they might mention how much pain they’re in, and they might talk about ending their life. Much of the time, however, they will express the same thoughts but in much less obvious ways. They might say things like “I’m such a burden on you. I don’t have anything to offer the world. I might as well just give up. You’re better off without me. I can’t take this pain anymore. I hate my life. I don’t deserve to live.” They might express how hopeless they feel or how meaningless or pointless they deem their lives to be. They might start saying that their efforts to get better are futile, that they might as well stop trying. They might say that their problems have become unmanageable and too difficult to handle. They might say that their sadness, shame or fear feel unbearable.

When a loved one is suicidal, they might start misusing their medications, taking too much or too little in an attempt to make themselves sick. They might behave in ways that resemble suicide attempts, causing themselves physical harm, making dangerous, reckless choices, or otherwise engaging in what might be cries for help. They might start isolating themselves from other people. Conversely, they might start contacting people, sometimes for the first time in a long time, to apologize and make amends. They might be trying to tie up loose ends or take care of unfinished business as part of their suicide plan.

The medical team at the Beach House has been providing addiction treatment for decades, with specialties in trauma, substance abuse, psychology, dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders and mental illness. In addition, our facilities partner with local specialized clinics for extra medical, detoxification, behavioral and addiction support if necessary. Call or text (310) 564-2761 today for more information.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.