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Understanding Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Recognizing the Risk Factors & Warning Signs of Suicide, Understanding Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Suicide is a subject that may not be easy to discuss, but it is crucial to address it openly to promote awareness and support. Recognizing the risk factors and warning signs of suicide is an essential step in seeking help to prevent this tragic outcome. 

Suicide can affect individuals of all ages. However, certain factors can put an individual at an increased risk for suicide, such as the following:

  • Mental Health Conditions: Mental health plays a significant role in suicide risk. Individuals facing conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse disorders are at a higher risk. 
  • Previous Suicide Attempts: A history of suicide attempts is a strong predictor of future risk. Individuals who have attempted suicide once are more likely to struggle with suicidal thoughts again.
  • Family History: Genetics and family history can contribute to the risk of suicide. If someone has a close family member who has died by suicide, it may increase their vulnerability.
  • Trauma and Abuse: Experiencing trauma, abuse, or significant life stressors can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and desperation. This can increase the risk of suicide.
  • Access to Lethal Means: Easy access to lethal methods, such as firearms or medications, increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Limiting access to these methods can be a crucial preventive measure.
  • Loneliness and Isolation: Feelings of loneliness and social isolation can worsen mental health struggles, making individuals more susceptible to suicidal thoughts.
  • Chronic Health Conditions: People dealing with chronic pain or severe health conditions may face increased emotional distress, contributing to suicide risk.

Identifying the Warning Signs of Suicide Risk

Knowing someone is at a higher risk for suicide is not the only thing to be aware of. There are certain warning signs as well. Warning signs may include the following:

  • Verbal Cues: Pay attention to statements indicating a desire to die, feelings of hopelessness, or being a burden to others. Expressions of unbearable emotional pain should be taken seriously and addressed immediately.
  • Behavioral Changes: Sudden changes in behavior, withdrawal from social activities, neglect of personal hygiene, or giving away possessions can be warning signs. 
  • Mood Swings: Extreme mood swings, especially from deep despair to sudden calmness, can indicate internal struggles.
  • Isolation: A sudden withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities may signal emotional distress.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Significant changes in sleep patterns, either excessive sleep or insomnia, may be indicative of mental health challenges.
  • Increased Substance Use: Escalating the use of alcohol or drugs can be a coping mechanism for those facing emotional pain. 
  • Risky Behaviors: Engaging in reckless or risky behaviors without concern for consequences can indicate a lack of regard for one’s own life.

What to Do If You Suspect Someone Is Struggling

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts or has made an attempt on their life, there are several things you can do, such as:

  • Communicate Openly: Approach the person with empathy and express your concern. Encourage them to share their feelings and create a safe space where they can talk without judgment. Let them know that you are there for them and that they are not alone.
  • Listen Actively: Give them a safe space to discuss their emotions. Listening attentively can help them feel understood and supported. Sometimes, having someone to talk to about your feelings or struggles can make all the difference.
  • Encourage Professional Help: Suggest seeking help from professionals, such as therapists, mental health counselors, or psychiatrists. If they are resistant to seeking help, offer to accompany them.
  • Stay Connected: Continue to offer support and stay connected. Let them know they are not alone and their feelings are valid.
  • Involve Trusted Individuals: Reach out to friends, family, or other support networks to create a strong system around the individual. It is important to have a strong support system to help you through difficult and challenging times.
  • Remove Lethal Means: If possible, limit access to any potentially lethal methods, such as firearms or medications.
  • Emergency Intervention: If you believe the person is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call emergency services for help or take them to your nearest emergency room. You can also contact 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline online or by calling or texting 988.

Are you or someone you know struggling with suicidal thoughts? Don’t hesitate to seek help – support is available. Located in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, Peak Behavioral Health offers a variety of treatments and services to help those in a mental health crisis. To learn more about our holistic and personalized approach, please contact us today. 

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