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Know The Signs Shafter High School PRIDE Team

Pain isn’t always obvious, but most suicidal people show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. The signs may appear in conversations, through their actions, or in social media posts. If you observe one or more of these warning signs, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change, step in or speak up.

Know The Signs

Increased alcohol or drug use

"We used to hang out and work on my truck, then I found out he'd started going to parties and getting drunk every night, and I realized it wasn't just the alcohol that was the problem. He was trying to hurt himself."

They increase use of alcohol or drugs.

Talking about wanting to die or suicide

"My friend used to say things like "I just can't take it anymore, I just want to end it all."

Their statements might be subtle or vague.

"I'm going to kill myself."

They may be direct and literally say they are going to kill themselves.

Thoughts may be reflected in something written or drawn.

Uncontrolled anger

"My boyfriend used to be so calm, but he began to get so angry all the time. He never used to have a temper."

They express or act in ways that reflect hostility, bitterness, or resentment or rage. They talk about seeking revenge.

Reckless driving or suicidal behavior?

Reckless behavior

"People always called him a daredevil doing such dangerous things all the time. He always drove too fast, then began drinking and driving. When I found out he crashed his car, I wasn't sure it was just an accident."

They act in ways that could be dangerous or detrimental and they do not seem to care about the consequences.

"He was making outrageous purchases; buying expensive tools, a motorcycle that he couldn't afford."

They spend money recklessly.

Changes in sleep

They sleep more or can't sleep and are restless.

Feeling hopeless, desperate, trapped

"What does it matter? Nothing is ever going to change. It's never going to get better."

They don't see their situation or life changing for the better and don't see a way out. They make statements that hint that life seems pointless.

No sense of purpose

"I don't want my family or friends to have to worry about me anymore."

They feel like a burden to others.

"What I do doesn't matter. I'm a lost cause."

They feel worthless.

Putting affairs in order

They rush to complete or revise a will.

Giving away possessions:

"She kept showing me things around her room when I came over, like where she kept her keys, money, important papers and her favorite perfume she wanted her sister to have. But she was only 17 years old. When I questioned her, she said 'I'm telling you just in case I'm not here anymore."

They give away prized or favorite possessions.

Anxiety or agitation

"My girlfriend used to be so happy-go-lucky but now she gets anxious over even small things. She always seems to be near panic."

They appear nervous, shaken or worried.

Sudden mood changes

They are uncharacteristically sad or depressed or are unusually happy or content after a period of significant depression.

Withdrawal:

"For the last two years, my friend and I played baseball together. At first he started coming late to practice, then skipped a game or two. When he did show up for a game, he wasn't very energetic or talkative. Then he stopped showing up altogether. When we saw each other in class, he would just nod and walk by."

They stop talking to and doing things with others or stop doing activities they once enjoyed. They feel isolated.

Talking about being a burden to others

"I think they’d be better off without me."

Talking about being a burden to others. Views that one’s existence burdens family, friends and/or society.

If any of these signs are present, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

  1. Talking about death or suicide
  2. Seeking methods for self harm, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Listening can save a life

Find the words

"Are you thinking of ending your life?"

Few phrases are as difficult to say to a loved one. But when it comes to suicide prevention, none are more important. Here are some ways to get the conversation started.

Start the conversation

Before starting a conversation with someone you are concerned about, be prepared. Have a list of crisis resources on hand. Practice what you will say. Plan the conversation for a time when you won’t be in a hurry and can spend time with the person.

"I've noticed that you've mentioned feeling hopeless a lot lately…"

Mention the signs that prompted you to ask about suicide. This makes it clear that you are not asking "out of the blue," and makes it more difficult for the person to deny that something is bothering them.

"Sometimes when people feel like that, they are thinking about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?"

Ask directly about suicide. Talking about suicide does NOT put the idea in someone's head and usually they are relieved. Asking directly and using the word "suicide" establishes that you and the person at risk are talking about the same thing and lets the person know that you are willing to talk about suicide.

"Are you thinking about ending your life?"

You may phrase the question in a different way. If they answer "yes" to your direct question about suicide stay calm, and don't leave the person alone until further help is obtained. Call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Listen, express concern, reassure

"I can imagine how tough this must be for you. I understand when you say that you aren't sure if you want to live or die. But have you always wanted to die? Well, maybe there's a chance you won't feel this way forever. I can help"

Listen to the reasons the person has for both living and dying. Validate that they are considering both options and underscore that living is an option for them.

"I'm deeply concerned about you and I want you to know that help is available to get you through this."

Let the person know you care. Letting them know that you take their situation seriously, and you are genuinely concerned about them, will go a long way in your effort to support them.

Create a safety plan

"Do you have any weapons or prescription medications in the house?"

Ask the person if they have access to any lethal means (weapons, medications, etc) and help remove them from the vicinity. (Another friend, family member or law enforcement agent may be needed to assist with this.)

Do not put yourself in danger; if you are concerned about your own safety, call 911.

"Is there someone you can call if you think you may act on your thoughts of suicide?"

Create a safety plan together. Ask the person what will help keep them safe until they meet with a professional.

"Will you promise me that you will not drink or at least have someone monitor your drinking until we can get you help?"

Ask the person if they will refrain from using alcohol and other drugs or agree to have someone monitor their use.

"Please promise me that you will not harm yourself or act on any thoughts of suicide until you meet with a professional."

Get a verbal commitment that the person will not act upon thoughts of suicide until they have met with a professional.

Help is just a phone call or conversation away

Get help

"I understand if it feels awkward to go see a counselor. But there is a phone number we can call to talk to somebody. Maybe they can help?"

Provide the person with the resources you have come prepared with. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.

If you feel the situation is critical, take the person to a nearby Emergency Room or walk-in psychiatric crisis clinic or call 9-1-1.

Reach out

You are not alone in helping someone in crisis. There are many resources available to assess, treat and intervene. Crisis lines, counselors, intervention programs and more are available to you, as well as to the person experiencing the emotional crisis.

Resources

KHSD Student Behavior and Supports

Shafter High School Counselors

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

California Department of Education, Mental Health

Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services

Phone & Text

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Hotline: Text HOME to 741741
  • Local Crisis Hotline: 661-868-8000 or 1-800-991-5272

Websites:

  • https://www.suicideispreventable.org/
  • https://www.elsuicidioesprevenible.org/

Images:

  • https://www.knoe.com/2020/06/03/suicide-prevention-get-help-here-know-the-12-warning-signs/
  • http://jimidisu.com/stress-management-part-2-by-akindotun-merino/
  • http://ncada-stl.org/event/signs-of-suicide-training/
  • https://seasonsmedical.com/news/health-tip-warning-signs-of-suicide/
  • https://parentology.com/5-natural-ways-to-help-with-mood-swings/
  • https://www.suicideline.org.au/resource/supporting-someone-after-a-suicide-attempt/
  • https://www.mixdexhq.com/tv-news/journalists-help-get-the-word-out-about-suicide-prevention/
  • http://techsavvyscience.blogspot.com/2014/01/creating-easy-works-cited-page.html

YouTube:

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcYHpXXrU9U
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5a0Wgl2Bvs
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80PHUPTz3Nk
  • https://youtu.be/17OYLzMV8_g

Credits:

Created with images by Fa Barboza - "untitled image" • Claudia Wolff - "I received a call from the school nurse, who put my son on the line. My son told me he was very sad and was feeling depressed. I immediately went to my son’s school to pick him up. Before we left, we met with one of the administrators, who helped my son feel a little better. The whole afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad my son was when I arrived at the school. A few hours later, when I went upstairs for some quiet time, it hit me that my son may be depressed…just like me. What I love about this image is the raw emotion that shows just how hard parenting can be sometimes." • Blake Connally - "Man leaning head on wall"