Suicide Prevention: How to Know When It’s Time to Get Help

Thoughts of suicide are a cry for help. However, some are more immediate than others. Everyone feels hopeless at times or pain. The problem comes when this is ongoing or you cannot see a way out. Here are guidelines for when it’s important to seek help.

First, know that suicidal thinking is temporary. Even people who are depressed have mood swings from delight to despondency. It’s important to realize that suicidal thinking is part of that. Things are bad and appear hopeless, but they’re not. They only appear that way. Anything that has gone wrong can get better. Anything you’ve done wrong can be forgiven. You can make amends or improvements, and you can be happy. Don’t give in to temporary thoughts with a permanent solution.

Second, it’s important to realize what might cause or exaggerate suicidal thoughts. Is there depression or substance abuse driving them? Treating the problem helps you feel better physically and emotionally and gives you hope. It takes time, but that’s why it’s important to understand. Your mind is working through all the bad in your life and not focusing on anything good. By working to focus on the good things in your life, you can give yourself time to see that suicide is not the answer.

Look for ways to alleviate stress in your everyday life. ZenBusiness recommends spending more time in the sun for extra vitamin D, which has been shown to boost mental and emotional health. Learning a new hobby can also keep you occupied with something new and bring energy and positivity into your life. You can also create a calming and more relaxing environment at home by decluttering, organizing, and adding some indoor plants to give your mood a boost. Small steps like these can add some needed positivity. 

About 5 percent of the world’s population will attempt suicide at some point; people who abuse alcohol or drugs are six times more likely to attempt suicide, and 90 percent of suicides are people with mental illnesses such as depression. 

If you or someone you know is actively thinking about how to commit suicide, it’s time for intervention. Planning to kill yourself and attempting to get the means to do so (a weapon, drugs, etc.) are major indicators that you’re not just having bad thoughts because you’re depressed. Making a plan means it’s time for help.

If you’re abusing drugs or alcohol, you need help for your addiction. For some, inpatient treatment can be effective. It takes you away from temptations and isolation and puts you in a place where people are actively trying to help you work through your problems. You can work with family and friends to solve problems that make you seek escape through alcohol or drugs, thus limiting the “need” for them. If you can get to that point, you’ll be healthier and happier, removing the temptation to make all your pain go away immediately and permanently.

Military veterans often deal with stress and substance abuse, and suicide rates among vets are disturbing; in fact, there are more military deaths from suicide than combat. Fortunately, there are resources to help, including those provided by organizations that focus on female veterans, such as the Foundation for Women Warriors.

Suicide is not the answer. If you or someone you know is actively talking about suicide and/or making a plan for it, call the Suicide Prevention Resource Center Lifeline (USA) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7 anonymous, free crisis counseling. You’re not alone.