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How to know someone is suicidal

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. If you, a friend or a loved one need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Often friends and family members who have lost someone to suicide say they wish they would have known that their loved one was suicidal. Many times it is hard to tell the difference between a brief rough patch and something more. Depression can be gradual and sometimes hard to notice for others and even for the person experiencing it. A person who is feeling overwhelmed or who have suffered setbacks like divorce, financial difficulty, medical illness, trauma or loss of a loved one can think that lingering signs of depression are “normal” and supposed to happen. While a certain amount of grief from these difficult experiences is expected, it’s important to know when a person’s depression isn’t getting better and is headed in a dangerous direction.

Learn what the signs and symptoms are of someone who is suicidal so you can take action when you need to. To do this, we’d like to use an acronym that was developed by The American Association of Suicidology. IS PATH WARM is a suicide assessment mnemonic that is easy to remember and apply.

How to Know Someone is Suicidal, mnemonic

Ideation is when someone is threatening to kill or hurt themselves or looking for ways to die. Increased or excessive substance abuse is also a red flag. When a person feels like they do not have a purpose in life is purposelessness. Anxiety including nervousness, agitation and the inability to sleep is also a sign. Feeling trapped or like there is no way out of your situation as well as feelings of hopelessness about the future should be taken seriously. It is also important to notice when friends and family withdrawal from activities, events or society in general. Uncontrolled anger and behavior that exhibits recklessness or acting without thinking can be signs as well. Finally, dramatic changes in mood can signal a broader issue.

Save this somewhere, to your phone, to your computer, even to your refrigerator at home to help you remember the warning signs and prevent suicide from affecting your friends and family.

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About Choices Psychotherapy

Choice is the foundation for a change. Choice speaks to the reality that there is not one right answer for all.  At Choices Psychotherapy, we are committed to empowering clients and their families to identify options while assisting in creating a personal roadmap toward health and recovery.

Related: Depression