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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Dealing with Depression

Preventing Depression-Related Suicide

Separate the Myths from the Facts

-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
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Common suicide warning signs include:
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Talking about suicide, death or dying
  • Talking about how friends and loved ones would be better off without them
  • Making a plan to commit suicide
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness and anxiety
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Increased withdrawal from friends, family and activities
If someone you know is exhibiting any of these warning signs, act immediately.

How to Help
Suicide is preventable. Follow the steps below to help a person who shows warning signs for suicide.
  1. Show the person that you are concerned about him by listening without judgment and asking him about his feelings. Encourage the person to continue talking.
  2. Don’t act shocked. This only causes further stress in a suicidal person.
  3. Avoid trying to come up with a solution to his problem. It is probably much more complex than you realize. Instead, get help from a qualified mental health professional who is trained to handle these situations.
  4. Address the issue of suicide directly by saying something like, “Are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?” If their response is yes, probe further. Ask if he's thought about how he would do it, if he has what he needs to carry out the plan, and if he has a day or time in mind.
If he answers "yes" to any of the above questions (or you think his answers indicate a plan for suicide), get help immediately by calling any of the following 24-hour response hotlines:
  • 911 (or your local emergency number)
  • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
If you are unsure about whether or not to get help, then get help. Do not handle this situation alone or without professional assistance. And while waiting for help, do not leave the person’s side, even for a second. Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.

For more information about helping a suicidal person, visit www.suicide.org.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have attempted suicide in the past and been hospitalized 5 times for it. I've undergone 30 E.C.T.'s (a.k.a shock therapy). There are three things I would like to mention and wish were in the article: 1) Sometimes the antidepressant itself will cause a person to have suicidal thoughts. This does not only happen in teens and young adults. It happened to me 2 years ago and I am in my forties. Nine months of suicidal urges and no one caught it for 9 months! 2) Don't be afraid of the hospital. It is the safest place to be when one is having these urges. Don't wait for someone else to notice your signs. If you are aware enough of what you are planning, please go to the ER. 3) Depression ALWAYS lifts eventually. There is a lighter day coming. You don't have to die. Love yourself enough to hold on. Love your family enough to hold on. And if you're religious, love God enough to hold on. There will be a day when you can take a full breath and be glad to be alive!!!! HOLD ON!!! We love you! - 7/23/2014 2:59:38 AM
  • I have attempted suicide more than once. The first time I was still in grade school. I have scars because of it. I never take suicide lightly when someone talks about it. I know how it feels to have no one to turn to so I try to be that person. I'm just lucky that I sought out help after realizing what I was really doing. It's a very scary situation. - 2/19/2014 11:55:27 PM
  • The one theme I did notice that was sad to notice was how the people left behind generally seem to blame themselves when goodness knows they did probably everything humanly possible. - 5/12/2012 11:46:30 PM
  • Thanks to GOD I never attempted Suicide, but I have struggled with Depression most of my life. But, GOD has saved my life, & made me find a reason to live. ASK GOD for help he is the ONE & ONLY One that could HELP ME OUT OF MY MISERY. Deb in Oregon. - 4/29/2012 2:15:52 AM
  • In 2004, I attempted suicide. I didn't realize so many others were at the same broke place in their own lives. I just knew I could not make it through another day. However with a lot of intervention I am still here and still struggling along. - 11/1/2011 5:19:05 AM
  • Thanks for this article. It's so vital to know what to do if someone in your life is seriously depressed. - 3/8/2011 6:51:12 PM
  • This article touched a real note in me. I have several family members or friends who have suffered from depression, and one even took his own life. It was 30 years ago, when people thought that talking about suicide was just a ploy to get attention. His family will regret, forever, that they didn't listen. - 2/20/2011 12:54:19 PM
  • This artilce really hit home for me. My dad suffered from depression all his life, but he regused to get help for it. I really wish he did. He took his own life and never got to know his youngest grandson. If only he lived closer or we talked more, I keep playing over and over in my head what I could bave done, but I have to realize that none of this was my fault, he was sick. - 1/12/2011 2:23:39 PM
  • Great article! Anyone (and everyone) can learn more about how to help prevent this most preventable cause of death in our country. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at www.afsp.org for information, advocacy, research and survivor support. Check it out. - 12/14/2010 8:49:50 AM
  • KIKIKINS23
    As a person who has thought seriously about suicide since the age of 16, I can say that this article hits the nail on the head. There are days when I can hardly get out of bed, but I struggle because I know it would destroy my siblings. The sad part is, I have planned my death and still have that plan, written up very neatly, just in case the pain gets too bad. Never ignore the signs. Never try to tell someone that killing themselves will make them go to hell; it doesn't work. If they want to go through with it, they will try. Just be there for them. - 12/3/2010 12:54:58 PM
  • I usually ask anyone in that situation if they have a plan and what is it. If the answer is I don't know then you can relax a bit and steer the conversation to what is making them want to die. I wish I didn't know this. I used to have suicidal thoughts. But I rarely get them now, I started to not pay attention to them but Use them as a reason to ask myself what was bothering me. I'm so glad that is in the past for me. - 5/26/2008 10:31:51 AM
  • MELOMAR
    This article is so true, although another bothersome myth that I heard was "if they were serious they wouldn't try stuff like pills, they would just get a gun so any attempts like that should be ignored". I attempted it numerous while suffering from undiagnosed bipolar and meant it regardless of the means. Ignoring the past attempts as attention seeking based on the method could also be dangerous.
    - 4/17/2008 3:32:51 PM
  • It's interesting reading this from a more "outside" view. I honestly don't remember a day where I haven't thought about death or suicide. I don't mind though because the psychology of it is fascinating to me. I like analyzing myself from various viewpoints. - 3/8/2008 8:23:57 PM
  • Our town Lost a 12 year old yesterday. And school is out today. Please pray for our kids. Educators know that once one child does this others usually follow. - 1/25/2008 12:18:51 PM
  • I lost my brother to suicide 18 months ago. I can't stop thinking about what I could have done differently. The signs were there,.But he convinced me at the time that he was feeling much better,. He was taking medication, was in a new relationship, had plans for the future, had lost weight and had started to excercise again. - 1/16/2008 12:57:12 PM