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Questions to Prevent Suicide


Suicidal thoughts are common with depressive illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder. 

Asking the following questions will help you determine if your friend or family member is in immediate danger and requires the needed help. 

“Do you ever feel so bad that you think about suicide?” 

“Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?” 

“Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?” 

“Have you thought about what method you would use?” 

A suicidal person should see a doctor or mental health professional immediately. 

Always take suicidal plans or thoughts seriously.

Warning Signs of Suicide 


• Ideation (thinking, talking or wishing about suicide) 

• Substance use or abuse (increased use or change in substance) 

• Pointlessness (no sense of purpose or belonging) 

• Anger 

• Trapped (feeling like there is no way out) 

• Hopelessness (there is nothing to live for, no hope or optimism) 

• Withdrawal (from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies) 

• Anxiety (restlessness, irritability, agitation) 

• Recklessness (high risk-taking behaviour) 

• Mood disturbance (dramatic changes in mood) 

It is always urgent when someone’s life might be in danger! It is better to lose a relationship from violating confidence than attending a funeral. Later on, the person might even thank you for saving his or her life. It may be helpful to warn those closest to the suicidal person to maintain a vigilant watch over the person’s behaviour. Confide your concerns with a mental health professional or trusted confidant and together decide how to intervene. 


Additional Warning Signs of Suicide 


• Talking about suicide 

• Looking for ways to die (internet searches on methods of suicide, looking for weapons, pills, etc.) 

• Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness 

• Preoccupation with death 

• Suddenly happier and calmer 

• Loss of interest in things one cares about 

• Visiting or calling people one cares about 

• Making arrangements, setting one’s affairs in order 

• Giving things away, such as prized possessions 

A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.


If You Recognise the Warning Signs of Suicide


Don’t try to minimise problems or shame a person into changing his/her mind. Your opinion of a person’s situation is irrelevant. Trying to convince a suicidal person that it’s not that bad or that there is so much to live for may only increase feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Reassure the person that help is available, that depression is treatable, and that feelings of suicide are temporary. Life can get better! 

Never keep a plan for suicide secret. Don’t worry about risking a friendship if you truly feel a life is in danger. 

If you feel the person isn’t in immediate danger, acknowledge the pain as legitimate and offer to work together to get help. Make sure you follow through – this is one instance where you must be tenacious in your follow-up. 

Help find a doctor or a mental health professional, participate in making the first phone call, or go along to the first appointment. If you’re in a position to help, don’t assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking. 


Common Misconceptions of Suicide


The following are common misconceptions about suicide: 

“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.” 

Not True. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. 

“Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.” 

Not True. The person is upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing. 

“If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.” 

Not True. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death and mostly hesitate until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. 

“People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.” 

Not True. Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help within six months before their deaths. 

“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.” 

Not True. You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true – bringing up the subject of suicide and openly discussing it is one of the most helpful things you can do. 


A suicidal person should see a doctor or mental health professional immediately. 


Always take your own suicidal thoughts or plans seriously:


• Check yourself into the emergency room. 

• Tell someone who can assist you in finding help immediately. 

• Stay away from things that might hurt you. 

• Most people can be treated with a combination of anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy.



Read More:

Suicide Is Preventable, And Help Is Available

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