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LOS ANGELES - What do giving your belongings away, increased use of alcohol and a change in eating patterns have in common? They are all warning signs that you or your loved one may be contemplating suicide.
In addition to those just mentioned, a more comprehensive list of warning signs of persons considering suicide include:
Developing a specific plan for suicide (the number one predictor of suicide risk)
Expressing suicidal feelings directly or bringing up the topic of suicide
Signs of depression: loss of pleasure, sad mood, alterations in sleeping patterns, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, agitation, feelings of failure or shame
Settling affairs, making out a will
Changes in behavior (poor work or school performance)
Engaging in risky behavior
Risk factors also increase the possibility that a person will attempt suicide over their lifetime. These risk factors include but are not limited to:
Having attempted suicide in the past
Having lost a loved one to suicide
A recent loss or threat of a loss, for example: the death of a loved one, loss of a job, a house, etc.
Divorce, separation or a broken relationship
Loss of health to serious, progressive or painful illness; diminished self-esteem or self-confidence; losing all hope in the future ("Things will never get better," "Life feels like an open sore that's never going to heal.")
The tragedy of suicide is compounded when it involves young people. Youth suicide may be triggered by seemingly trivial events such as a breakup, social exclusion or bullying, or experience of failure. Because adolescents have higher attempt rates, it is especially important to recognize the warning signs of suicide in youth.
"Suicide is preventable with the correct interventions from trained professionals," said Dr. Kita Curry, president and chief executive officer of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. "We recognize that this is an issue of great concern in our country and our communities. That is why we established the Suicide Prevention Center. We are focused on supporting individuals in crisis and providing suicide prevention awareness to the community."
Curry encourages anyone who recognizes these warning signs in themselves or their friends or loved ones to call (877) 7-CRISIS. The hotline is open 24 hours a day in English and Spanish.
Contributed by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
Published: July 11, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 13