Know the signs
We are all very different and have different ways of communicating our distress. However, there are some common signs that have been identified by researchers that we would consider to be risk factors for suicide. It is important to remember that suicide is still a rare occurrence, lots of people will share these risk factors and it is hard to predict who will actually act on their thoughts and feelings and kill themselves.
At James’ Place we take into account a number of factors when we think about an individual’s risk of suicide. Some of these will be things about your past experiences, some you will be able to identify as a specific trigger for your current difficulties and some will be related to what you are experiencing right now.
- Adverse childhood events such as bullying, physical and sexual abuse
- Previous self-harm
- Previous suicide attempts
- Bereavement, especially bereavement by suicide
- Loss or change of role such as retirement, redundancy
- Relationship breakdown
- Sudden change in circumstances – new baby, new relationship, new job
- Recent bereavement or traumatic event
What is happening to the person now
It can be helpful to divide up the signs into four areas:
- Thoughts such as ‘Everyone is fed up with me’, ‘No-one cares about me’, ‘I can’t see a way out of these problems’, ‘I want to die’.
- Feelings such as feeling sad, hopeless, numb, trapped, alone.
- Behaviours such as isolating yourself from people you care about, not looking after yourself, doing things that make you feel worse, putting a plan together to end your life.
- Physical sensations or symptoms such as disturbed sleep pattern, feeling slowed down and sluggish, rapid heart rate, breathlessness.
When should I ask for help?
If you recognise that you or someone you care about are experiencing some of these signs you should consider talking to a trusted friend or colleague about your concerns.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your suicidal thoughts or are worried that you may act on them you should reach out for help now. You will find emergency contacts in the right column of this page.