Words of Advice for Helping People with Suicidal Thoughts

It’s important to learn how to detect if someone has suicidal thoughts in order to help in the best and healthiest way possible.
Words of Advice for Helping People with Suicidal Thoughts

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Suicidal thoughts don’t just pop up over night. They’re a result of a long process. Unfortunately, on many occasions, we fail to notice this process.

Depression isn’t always obvious.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person commits suicide every 40 seconds. It’s a common cause of death for people between the ages of 15 to 44 and affects more men than it does women.

The most important thing is prevention. We need to be attentive to the signs of depression. In addition, it’s important to detect the signs that someone is harboring suicidal thoughts.

A timely intervention can be critical.

Signs that something is wrong

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide is more common in young people and in the elderly. Generally speaking, people with suicidal thoughts are often single and have few friends. Suicidal thoughts also commonly appear after a loss.

No matter what, we have to be aware of the signs that point to suicidal  thoughts. The most common are the following:

  • No concern for personal appearance
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Experiencing stages of severe insomnia
  • Isolation and rejection of company
  • Frequent sadness or irritability
  • Saying phrases such as “I want to die” or “My life isn’t worth it”
  • Indifference to everything
  • Frequent consumption of alcohol or other drugs
  • No interest in eating and loss of appetite.

There also cases of secret depression. The symptoms can be very subtle and difficult to detect.

In these kinds of cases, the person can be evasive when asked questions about his or her personal life. The person might show an obsession with always being busy or having to laugh constantly.

Visit the article: How to Detect Depression in a Loved One

Loneliness fosters suicidal thoughts

Loneliness fosters suicidal thoughts

If someone is starting to harbor suicidal thoughts, the most important thing is to avoid leaving them alone.

Loneliness doesn’t do anything but deepen depression. It also makes the solutions to problems very difficult to see.

Over time, the suicidal person begins to shut their life’s door to everything. They don’t want to talk to anyone. Plus, they don’t want to go out and it gets harder and harder for them to keep up a routine.

It’s not easy, but what we should do is try to talk with the person.

It’s normal for suicidal people to reject any kind of conversation. This makes it essential that conversations are subtle and aren’t overwhelming with advice or signs of worry and anguish.

Instead, the main goal of reaching out should be to prevent further isolation.

Helping someone with suicidal thoughts

Helping someone with suicidal thoughts

When a person starts to express that he or she would prefer to die, it should always be taken seriously. People don’t say these kinds of expressions for no reason, especially if they repeat them.

In these cases, you always have to take action.

The preventative action that you can take with a person with suicidal thoughts are the following:

  • It’s important to ask the person in an open manner about how they feel. Above all, listen comprehensively to what they say.
  • Don’t judge. This is critical. Nothing the person says should be a target of judgement. Judging might make the person keep quiet when they should be saying what they feel.
  • Be straight-forward. It’s always better to take on a topic without beating around the bush. Ask if the person has thought about commiting suicide and respect what they say.
  • Don’t panic. What the other person needs is a solid support, not another problem. You have to stay calm and measured.
  • Help them visualize the effects of suicide. It’s a good idea to ask the person what they think will happen to the people they love after their suicide.
  • Talk about the problem or loss. Rather than looking for answers, it’s more important to let the person express what they feel.

The best thing to do is helping them look at the problem, or what they lost, in a different way.

  • Emphasize the positive side. Ask the person about the positive things that they still have in their life. Find out what has stopped them from committing suicide up until now.
  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Encourage the person to ask for help. These kinds of cases should be seen by a professional. Without pressuring, you should motivate the person to seek out a psychologist or psychiatrist.

If the person is completely unwilling to receive help and shows signs of instability, it’s time to act.

You should alert emergency services or close family contacts for intervention. You should never choose to stay passive or to “wait to see what happens”.

After all, a life is in jeopardy.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Córdova Osnaya, M., Rosales Murillo, M. D. P., Caballero Avila, R., & Rosales Pérez, J. C. (2007). Ideación suicida en jóvenes universitarios: su asociación con diversos aspectos psicosociodemográficos. Psicología Iberoamericana15(2).
  • Gallego, L. V. (2009). El pensamiento de suicidio en la adolescencia (Vol. 4). Universidad de Deusto.
  • Gómez, N. A. N., Plaza, S. L. O., Ramírez, I. D. L., Monroy, L. G. D., & Vega, H. A. R. (2010). Perfil multidimensional de personas que han realizado intento de suicidio. Pensamiento psicológico4(10).
  • Cada 40 segundos se suicida una persona. (2019). Retrieved 25 December 2020, from https://www.who.int/es/news/item/09-09-2019-suicide-one-person-dies-every-40-seconds
  • Stotland, N. L. (2010). Disguised depression deserves a diagnosis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(7), 867-867.
  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – Centro de Psicología Aplicada. Retrieved 25 December 2020, from https://www.uam.es/UAM/CPA

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.