“It’s beyond me.” – Michael Costelloe, father.
“Everyone’s completely in shock […] I saw him three weeks ago when he stopped by, and he seemed to be in good spirits.” – Matt Dwyer, former colleague.
“I was shocked when I heard, and it still hasn’t really sunk in […] I never detected anything really troubling about him.” – Joseph Gannascoli, former fellow Sopranos actor and friend.
By now you’ve probably heard about former Sopranos actor John Costelloe’s suicide earlier this month.
I didn’t get wind of the tragedy until late last week, when every news source from Yahoo! to the New York Times seemed to be covering it. When I stumbled upon this New York Post article, however, is when I found all the above quotes. Messages from family members and friends – the people who are often the closest to us – who had no idea, saw no indication, that Costelloe was at risk for suicide.
And why should they have? When someone seems happy and content with life, why should we assume that person is at risk for suicide?
Like the many mental health issues that can put a person at risk for suicide, suicide warning signs can be tricky. Oftentimes people who’ve started to develop a plan to commit suicide don’t act depressed; rather, they seem happy – and happiness can definitely steer you away from thinking the person is at risk for suicide. When people who’re considering suicide become happy, it’s usually because they have a plan. They’ve made a decision, come to a conclusion. Whatever troubles were ailing them before seem to lessen in their minds because they now know what they’re going to do about them – bring them to an end with suicide.
Of course, there are many other suicide warning signs. Losing interest in once-loved activities, giving away one’s personal belongings, making phone calls or scheduling visits that have a certain “goodbye” undertone to them – these could all be indicative of a suicide plan.
Brushing up on suicide warning signs isn’t exactly breezy bedtime reading, but it’s the kind of information you’d much rather have than not should the situation ever call for it. To learn more:
- Check out Suicide.org’s Suicide Warning Signs.
- Memorize the Is Path Warm? mnemonic from the American Association of Suicidology.
- Read WebMD’s Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide, which also provides information about what you should do if you think you see such signs in someone you know.
- Consider printing the Suicide Warning Signs Wallet Card provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
My thoughts and prayers are with Costelloe and his loved ones, as I hope are the rest of the nation’s.