How to Spot the Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

·3-min read
Photo credit: Rawpixel - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rawpixel - Getty Images

The latest figures aren't pretty.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), men accounted for three quarters of all suicide deaths in 2020 – 3,925 deaths by suicide were recorded in men last year, which amounts to 75.1%.

By any measure that's tragic, but beyond those cold, hard figures these are brothers, friends, fathers and sons who have lost their lives to an entirely preventable condition. Preventable because suicide leaves a trace, sometimes it's small and imperceptible, but there are warning signs to look out for.

Concerned with how you're feeling? Or noticing some unusual behaviours among any of your friends? It's not always easy to recognise the signs of suicidal thoughts, and a lot of the time it will seem as though there are no signs at all, but, if you can identify some of the signals, you could genuinely save someone's life, potentially yours.

How to Spot the Signs of Suicidal Thoughts in Yourself

Here are some of the things you may think or feel if you're contemplating suicide, according to UK wellbeing charity CABA:

  • Everything's hopeless, what's the point in living?

  • There's nothing positive in my life, everything's negative

  • Everyone would be better off without me

  • I’m useless, unwanted or unneeded by others

  • My unbearable pain is never going to end

  • I’m physically numb, and feel cut off from my body

  • Taking my own life is my only option

Photo credit: Georgijevic - Getty Images
Photo credit: Georgijevic - Getty Images

You may also experience sleeping problems, including waking up too early. You may notice changes in your appetite and potentially lose or gain weight. Your self-esteem may be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people. You may feel no need to take care of yourself, either physically or mentally or both.

One of these symptoms in isolation may not be an indicator of suicidal thoughts, but if you experience more than one, or it becomes a regular thing, it could be a sign that something is seriously up.

How to Spot the Signs of Signs of Suicidal Thoughts in Others

Trying to figure out what's going on in someone's head? If your friends or family do any of the following, it’s time to step in:

  • Talking about feelings of hopelessness

  • Have sudden episodes of rage and anger

  • Act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences

  • Say they feel trapped, and that they can't see their way out of their problems

  • Self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol)

  • Become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated

The Next Step

If you or someone close to you is experiencing these feelings or showing any of the above signs, there are organisations on hand to provide advice and support through their dedicated helplines. Alternatively, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.

Samaritans

Call 116 123 any day, any time, or email jo@samaritans.org.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58.

Papyrus

Call the helpline on 0800 068 41 41.

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