Suicidal thoughts and attempts are a very serious consequence associated with many different types of mental health disorders, especially when they are left untreated. Suicidal thoughts are often linked to depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, as well as eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and even substance abuse disorders including alcoholism and illicit drug use.
Below, Dr. Ghahary has compiled together a list of potential warning signs in individuals who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide:
• Taking about suicide/death
• Substance abuse
• Low self-esteem
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Giving away personal belongings
• Drastic changes in mood/behaviour
• Changes in appearance/poor hygiene
• Engaging in risky behaviour
Rates of suicide are highest amongst teenagers, as well as young adults and the elderly. The risk of having suicidal thoughts or attempts can also increase if an individual has attempted suicide in the past, if there is a family history of mental health issues (including suicide), trauma (such as a death in the family, divorce, emotional abuse, or sexual assault), chronic or terminal illness (such as cancer, disability, or chronic pain); and individuals who work in certain professions (such as in the medical field – i.e. doctors, nurses and paramedics, as well as police officers.)
While suicide can’t necessarily be prevented 100% of the time, the risk can be decreased with early intervention. This is one of the reasons why days like World Mental Health Day are so important, as they raise awareness on the importance of discussing mental health when some look at it as a taboo or embarrassing subject. The best way that we can prevent someone close to us from attempting suicide is to know the aforementioned warning signs – not just with suicidal ideations, but in all types of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and so on. That way you are able to intervene and either get yourself the help that you need or get someone close to you the help that they need. If you do happen to know someone who is expressing suicidal thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask them about their mental health. The more support that someone has around them, the less likely they are to act on those negative impulses. You should also reiterate to them that they should not feel ashamed in wanting to seek out treatment and remind them that things like depression can be temporary. If you think someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves, do not leave them alone. Instead, call 911 or take them to the closest emergency room.