Warning Signs

Incapable of clearly expressing distress, the suicidal person sends signals to those around them. These signals can be subtle, or jumbo-sized. These signals are appeals for help; a final search for some glimmer of hope before the tsunami hits. Remember, 8 out of 10 suicides indicate their intent before the act itself. But even for the 2 out of 10 who don’t send out evident verbal signals, someone close to them may sense their melancholy and malaise.

Direct Verbal Messages

  • “I’m going to kill myself.”
  • “I want to die.”
  • “Soon, you won’t have me to kick around anymore.”
  • “There’s no point in even trying.”
  • “I’m afraid of suicide.”
  • “I’d be better off dead.”

Indirect Verbal Messages

  • “I’ll soon be at peace.”
  • “I’m useless.”
  • “I’m planning a long trip.”
  • “I’ve screwed up everything in my life.”
  • “You’ll all be better off when I’m not around.”

The sufferer may even joke about suicide. If you suspect someone near you is heading down that dark road, don’t hesitate. Ask them a direct question: “Are you thinking of committing suicide?”

If the person says no, and you doubt them, make sure they know that your door is always open if they’d like to talk. Show that you care. Say that if they ever think about suicide, they should contact you as soon as possible.

Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT

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