Just about every person will go through a period of depression at one time or another. For most it will be mild or moderate and will pass as the event resolves itself. However, for some the depression will be severe, and it may or may not be linked to an event with an indeterminate period of suffering. At some point the person may feel so helpless that they consider suicide. Nearly all depressed individuals find it hard to enjoy life in the same way as they once did. They have little energy for activities they once found pleasurable, including sex. Common symptoms include trouble sleeping, trouble focusing and a change in appetite. With deepening depression the person may not even want to be around others. They often withdraw from social occasions, preferring to be by themselves. These individuals start to develop a hopelessness that can become more and more pervasive. At this point suicide may be entertained as an option for escaping the constant pain and despair. The individual isn’t thinking clearly and is motivated solely by what will put an end to their emotional suffering. The idea of going to sleep and staying asleep can appear as a welcome relief. They need someone outside of themselves to step in and help. If you notice any of the following in the life of someone close to you, it’s probably time to step in:
- Insomnia – Not sleeping affects both mood and the ability to make sound decisions
- Looking for a means to an end – e.g. purchasing a gun or storing up pills
- Giving items of personal value away – This is an indication the person is putting affairs in order
- Hopelessness – A persistent negative attitude toward the future
- Little or no support system – Few or no available friends or family
- Withdrawing – Becoming isolated from family and friends
- Psychosis – Symptoms include hallucinations, e.g. seeing or hearing things.
If you suspect that someone may be thinking about suicide there are several steps you can take. First of all, remove any items from the house which could pose a danger, including a gun or pills. If the danger doesn’t seem imminent call a therapist and set up an appointment. The doctor’s office or hospital emergency room can also perform an evaluation. If you feel that the risk is pressing, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.