In the past few months, suicide has been brought to the forefront of talk shows and news sources. Sadly, celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have died by suicide recently, making everyone rethink their relationships with friends or family who have a history of depression. While having a diagnosis of depression does not have a direct link to self harm or suicidal thoughts, there are ways you can approach someone you love if you are genuinely concerned about them.
Do you know the red flags that could indicate self-harm or suicidal thoughts? If you notice your friend or loved one talk about these acts, or if you notice they are losing interest in people or things they once loved, you may want to consider talking to them about your concerns. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline notes other behaviors that could be warning signs of potential self-harm or suicide, including increased use of drugs or alcohol, acting in a reckless manner, or demonstrating significant mood swings.
Take a breath
Telling someone you are worried about them can be scary. You may feel like you are not equipped to talk about their mental health or that it just isn’t your business. While some of this may be true, it is also important to remember that you don’t have to get into their mental health history or have a full counseling session ready to go when you speak to them. If they are your friend or loved one, you can simply ask how they are doing or tell them that you care for them. These conversation starters can be small but can have a major impact.
Have a resource
When you ask how a person is or tell them you love them, or that you are worried about them, it can be helpful to also have a resource in your back pocket. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available around the clock, and calls are routed through regional or local centers. This means that callers are able to receive relevant resources for help in their area. Anyone can call the hotline, including people like you who are worried about someone they love.
Finally, after you tell your friend or loved one that you are worried about them, don’t let any embarrassment keep you away from your normal relationship. Check in via text or phone call, or invite them to your favorite diner for lunch. Keep your conversations “normal”, but be extra attentive if they want to talk about how they are feeling.
Are you curious about local resources for depression, self-harm, or suicide? Take a look at our list of local resources that could help you navigate the decision, or to become a better advocate for mental health issues across our area.