More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Recognizing the Signs of Suicide

Suicide can be prevented. In most cases, there are warning signs that someone is contemplating a suicide attempt. The most effective way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs, take them seriously and know how to respond to them.

The warning signs are:
  • Talking about suicide (killing one's self)
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • Depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • A sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving fast or through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up lose ends, changing a will

Be especially concerned if a person is exhibiting any of these warning signs and has attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20-50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt.

What to do:
First, if someone you know appears to be depressed and is contemplating suicide, take them seriously. Listen to what he or she is saying. Take the initiative to ask him or her what they are planning, but don't attempt to argue them out of committing suicide. Rather, let the person know that you care and understand and are listening. Avoid statements like: "You have so much to live for."

Then seek help. Encourage the person to seek the help of a mental health professional. Because the person probably doesn't think they can be helped, you'll probably have to be persistent by going with him.

If your loved one appears to be in danger of committing suicide imminently, do not leave him or her alone; remove any weapons or drugs that may be used. Accompany him or her to the nearest emergency room.

During treatment, support your friend. Help them to remember to take antidepressant medications and to continue any other therapy prescribed.
I definitely see myself in those warning signs.

I've tried talking with a few friends and family about what I've been going through and realized that most people don't want to hear about your problems.

The friends that I did talk with no longer contact me, good riddance to bad rubbish I say. In the past I always made time to listen to their problems, but now that the tables have turned, they want nothing to do with me.

As for my family, they too don't want to hear my whining.

At the same time, I really don't open up to anyone because I don't want anyone's pity.
I'd rather be hated than pitied.

I have my next appointment with my psychiatrist at the end of Oct.

I'm not scared of dying, I just don't want to.
solitary man i find it hard to imagine anyone pitying someone who is feeling suicidal. i can see people being frightened by it and not knowing how to respond. this may lead to denial or anger on their part. but pity just doesn't seem like it fits in this scenario. you may be confusing concern with pity.

i would not have known how to respond to someone who expressed suicidal thoughts to me before i experienced being suicidal myself. people generally just aren't prepared for that sort of thing and there is a lot of misunderstanding about it.

none of us who are suicidal truly want to die. it just seems to become the only option in our minds, like it's the only way we can end our pain. it really isn't. life can become better again. it has for me, and i know it can for you too.

i hope some of this helps and that maybe you can find someone you think you can open up to after all. if anything, speak with your family doctor. mine was very supportive and hopefully yours would be as well. and also you can find support here on this forum if you need an outlet for your feelings.


Solitary Man,

Being alone with thoughts of suicide is one thing that is known to increase the risk of harm. Find someone who is comfortable talking about suicide. Someone who will work with you to prevent the risk of these thoughts leading to suicidal actions. One of the quickest and best ways to find out if the helper has these abilities is to tell them that you are having thoughts of suicide and watch their reaction. Don't expect them to be comfortable immediately, but do expect them to show more concern for you than themselves. If they don't measure up, there are others who will. Don't give up. Once you have found someone, don't expect that the helper is going to keep the danger secret or not want extra help. You want a helper who is honest about how much they can do. Lastly, be honest. Don't say anything just to please the helper or promise anything you can't or won't do. Everyone needs to take the time to find what will really help.

Suicide is not the only way out.

Please have a look at this Psychlinks thread which lists Suicide Resources where you might call for local support.
Thanks for the replies. I know there are times where it feels like I'm listening to a radio in my head and the reception comes in clear on the good days, but a lot static can be heard on the bad days.

I want to believe that things will change, but for so long I've believed that suicide is my only option.
I've never been in love and I've learned to accept that's something that was never meant for me.

I have my misery to keep me company.
Either I can dwell on it and be sad or accept it and move on.

The only comforting thought I have is that I would not be missed when I'm gone. Sure people will be upset, but honestly I don't feel bad about it.

I avoid getting close to people so that way no one gets hurt.

I turned off my feelings many years ago, probably after my one and only attempt at death 16 years ago.

I've lived without tenderness for so many years, why would I need it now?

I know this sound mighty pesimistic, but these are thoughts and feelings that have been in my head for a very long time.


You have friends here, solitary man. You have but to reach out and we're here. We do understand, as much as one human being can understand another. We may not feel the exact feelings of another, but there are many here who have felt, in their own ways, as you feel. I know I have; yet, I'm alive and happy today. I hope you can be, as well.

Just keep coming here and talking it out. There's more to the world than our misery. There's sharing, and caring, and giving of ourselves to one another. We'd like you to be a part of that. :hug:
I've lived without tenderness for so many years, why would I need it now?
because you're a human being, and we all have the same needs. none of us wants to be alone. we all need to be loved. we wither away when we feel unloved, unlovable, and alone.

it doesn't matter that you've turned off your feelings, or for how long. underneath it all you still need to be cared for. it's what defines us as human beings.


My boyfriend {attempted suicide} yesterday. I knew he was down and I went over as soon as I realized how serious the signs were. By the time i got there I just lay with him while he cried. When he started to come out of it (a couple hrs later) I discovered he had cut {himself}. I wasn't loud about it. I knew it wouldn't have helped anything. i just hugged him harder. Luckily, nothing was deep.

I handled the situation as well as I could, but what now? ... I live a 15 min. walk away so hopefully that means that if there was ever a worse emergency I could get there in time as I've heard it takes a long time to actually... well... i don't want to be graphic. I've mentioned talking to someone, but he's seen so many therapists etc. that he doesn't like them. i'm the only one he tells anything personal to. I know it might not be right to psych. ppl ur close to, but i am majoring in psych. I'm hoping there is something that I can do. Any ideas?
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David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Whether he likes therapists or not, wren, he really needs to be seeing someone and to be on some medication. It's an unfair responsibility to put on your shoulders and it's not fair even to him to deny himself the opportunity to feel better.

What about family members? Other close friends? Someone else he could talk to or who might be able to encourage him to get some help? Is he a student - could he have access to a counseling center somewhere?
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