When someone you know appears suicidal, you might not know what to do and how to help them. Here, the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division will help you learn warning signs and help them.

What are warning signs that someone feels suicidal?

We can never tell when our loved ones are considering suicide. But there are some common signs:

● Talking about suicide, for example – “I wish I was dead” or “I’m going to kill myself.”

● Avoiding contact with friends and family.

● Increase in the use of alcohol or drugs.

● Sleeping too much or too little.

● Not wanting to be around other people.

● Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next day.

● Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation.

● Becoming quiet.

● Being anxious or depressed.

● Talking or writing about death, be it death or suicide.

● Preparing to end their life, such as storing our medication or buying the means to kill themselves.

● Putting affairs in order. Such as giving away belongings or making a will.

It’s very difficult to spot if something is wrong. The person may be cheerful, which may seem fake to you. Don’t ignore the gut feeling if you are concerned about a person and try to help them, as some people won’t be open about how they are feeling.

Many people try to seek help before attempting suicide by telling their feelings to a professional, friend, or family member. So if someone tells you about your feelings, don’t ignore them.

How can we help someone who is feeling suicidal?

If you see the warning signs and feel that the person may be feeling suicidal, encourage them to talk about their feelings. As you may have no idea what to talk about with them, which is understandable, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division is here to help you in this situation. 

It might help to:

● Letting them know that you care about them and they are not alone.

● Be non-judgmental. Don’t criticize or blame them.

● Ask them if they felt like this before. If so, ask how their feelings changed last time.

● Reassure them that they will not feel this way forever.

● Please encourage them to focus on the present rather than the future.

● Please encourage them to seek help that they are comfortable with. Such as help from a doctor or counselor or support through the health services such as Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.

● Make sure someone is with them if they are in danger.

● Try to get professional help for a person who is feeling suicidal.

If you are not sure if the person is feeling suicidal or not, ask them, “If you are thinking about suicide?” or “Are you having thoughts about ending your life?” These questions may be direct, but it’s better to address the person’s feelings directly rather than avoiding the issue.

Final words

Remember that you may not find why they are feeling suicidal or may not understand why they are feeling that way. But listen to what they are trying to say and at least let them know you care.