- Sleep cycle disrupted (insomnia, constant sleeping)
- Change in appetite (bulimia, overeating, undereating)
- Change in energy level (extreme fatigue, hyperactivity)
- Inability to find pleasure in anything
- Loss of interest in anything and everything
- Irritability, anger, rage
- Loss of sexual desire
- Frequent mood swings: euphoria to depression in very little time
- Low self-esteem
- Guilt, self-accusation
Generally speaking, depression triggered by a personal loss precedes suicidal thinking. It could be a romantic breakup; a job loss; the death of a loved one; failure at school; a health problem; etc. It’s important to consider how the sufferer is experiencing the loss in question. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t use your filters to evaluate the importance of their loss.
Suicidal intent can follow a series of losses and shocks, small or large, experienced over a short time period. Or it can come from one major shock.
Progressively, suicidal people shut themselves off from the world. They cease to talk to others. They look to be alone. They abandon their usual activities.
Once, during a telephone intervention, writes Raymond Viger, I asked a sufferer to describe his environment. The curtains in his apartment were all shut. Complete isolation. And he stayed there. Didn’t leave his apartment. Nor was anyone allowed to come over and see him. The door stayed locked.
The suicidal person also works to isolate him or herself psychologically. They say nothing. They become quiet, unresponsive. To those around, the person seems cold, unfeeling, aloof.
Substance abuse often masks a serious depression. The sufferer may begin to overindulge. Drugs, alcohol, prescription medications… Suicide attempts often happen at the end of a binge.
Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT
Suicide Prevention Hotlines:
Québec: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553). CLSCs can also help you.
Canada: Canada Suicide Prevention Service 833-456-4566
U.S.: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).