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How to identify a person with Suicidal Ideation

08 Sep 2015

‘I can’t believe that Amit would ever take this step’ says 28 year old Anita (name changed) about her husband’s suicide.  Amit was considered to be the life of parties, outgoing, friendly and always up to something. She further adds ‘Amit had become quieter in the last 2 months and seemed to be stressed as his business wasn’t doing as well as it was but we were happy. We had everything!’  Anita saw some signs of stress in her husband but did not think of it as anything more than work stress. In the last two months Amit had socially cut himself from his friends which Anita only got to know later. Many of Amit’s friends reported that it was completely unthinkable and we can still not come to terms with it.

 We have all heard of such incidents before. Suicidal ideations are commonly seen in people battling depression arising from hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. People having a psychological disorders such as bipolar mood disorder, psychosis, anorexia and borderline personality disorders may also have suicidal ideations. However, in some people the wish to end their lives as a ‘relief’ from their current lives aren’t very obvious.


It is time to act before it is too late and we lose our loved ones just because we could not identify ‘the cry for help’.

 The 10 warning signs of suicide:

1.      Mood Swings: The moods will vary from being irritable, stirred up and low mood. The person will sometimes appear hopeful and sometimes helpless. This in many cases is different from the person’s actual temperament.

2.      Getting things in place: Getting a will made, buying life insurance, giving away things, making future financial plans for the family.

3.      Dropping ques of wanting relief in life: The person may actually perceive his life as very painful and see death as a relief. He might make statements like ‘better die than live like this’.

4.      Risk Taking Behaviour: Driving in the influence of alcohol, unsafe sex or excessive use of alcohol or any other substance. According to Sigmund Freud risk taking behaviour stems out of humans innate ‘death drive’.

5.      Changes in personality: A calm happy go lucky person may appear anxious and tensed up. An extrovert may turn inwards and stop sharing things with people around. There might be a drastic change in behaviour and attitude of the person.

6.      Acquiring things that may help to end one’s life: The person might buy a gun or even acquire sleeping pills or poison.

7.      Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty in falling asleep or not wanting to wake up.

8.      Social Withdrawal: Avoiding friends and family. Not wanting to step out of one’s room or house. The person stops enjoying activities that he previously enjoyed.

9.      Sense of Failure: Feeling absolutely helpless in a situation with very little hope. The person may feel worthless and may want to end his life.

10.  Recent life crisis: Death of a loved one, divorce or a financial set back can be very difficult for some people to cope with. People may perceive it as the end of their own lives.

11.  Suicidal Threats: If your friend or a family member mentions about ending their life do take it seriously. It is a cry for help and support.

What should one do if you identify these signs in a loved one?

·         Talk about the recent changes that you see in the person. Ask if something is bothering them and if they are depressed. You can make the person feel supported and that you are there for them. Ask them if they have any intentions of ending their life.

·         Ask for professional help as this involves someone’s life. Do not take any risk!

·         Clearing the house of things that can be lethal such as weapons, sleeping pills, rat poison etc.

·         Avoid leaving the person alone. Give them company but at the same time do not let them feel watched.

·         Keeping the person away from any kind of stressors and helping them to stay calm.

·         Keeping emergency helpline numbers handy is very important.


Disclaimer: This post is an ePsyclinic initiative to create awareness on suicide. ePsyclinic is however not a suicide helpline and  our online platform based mental & emotional health services are not suitable for people with suicidal ideation or those with severe psychiatric disturbances.



Tags: #self-harm #suicidal ideation