Families are quite unaware of what leads their loved one(s) to consider suicide. Suicidal ideation is the act of entertaining thoughts of taking your life. For the most part, depression alone can leave a detrimental mark on the psyche. Having worked with suicidal and extremely depressed teens, I consider depression a disease of humanity, a human condition of existence. Depression can be a “logical disease,” resulting from realistic thoughts of life. Many depressed teens share stories involving the loss of relationships, death and dying, bullying, and their future. For adults, their depression revolves around finances, stress in relationships, their children, a severe mental illness of a loved one, and aging.
Sadly, many believe suicidal ideation and depression are simply “mood problems” remedied by happiness. The truth is that while depression is a mood disorder, it is far more existential and deep rooted than that. Often, individuals who are intensely affected by reality become suicidal.
Thoughts of suicide often masquerade in the minds of some individuals with depression as a remedy. There are 9 things among adults, children, and adolescents that are essential to pay attention to:
- Low mood: Someone who is constantly depressed, should be watched with a loving eye of concern.
- Preparation: Cleaning, giving away items
- Desire: Preoccupation with death and dying (romanticism)
- Reminiscing: Thinking about a deceased loved one and desiring to be with them
- Making statements: Stating “I wish I could leave this earth” should be taken seriously. You also want to determine imminence, stating “I want to take my life in 2015” is not as lethal as “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow.”
- Verbalizing intent: If a child or adolescent talks about killing him/herself, it is important that an adult follow-up in a calm manner. Determine when thoughts began and specific plans. Be direct (“do you wish you were not born?” “Do you want to die”)
- Intensity: Ask about thought intensity (mild, moderate, severe)
- Access: Consider access to things that could be lethal (medication, weapons) and ways to remove/hide them
- Risky behaviors: Pay attention to increased defiance, promiscuous behaviors, substance/drug abuse, disregarding curfew, and skipping school. All of these behaviors signal that something is wrong.
All of these warning signs can occur in adults, children, and adolescents. It is important to know the signs of someone considering suicide and to be prepared in the event you must act.
If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to reach out. You can also call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
All the best