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octopussy's avatar

What are some signs to look for in people who are suicidal?

Asked by octopussy (1217points) February 26th, 2010

My neighbour committed suicide 10 days ago by jumping off a cliff and I feel so very sad about it and wondered if there were signs that I didn’t see.The police found a suicide note in her apartment. I knew she suffered from depression and was struggling with her mortgage payments and she gave away her 2 dogs last month, perhaps I should have questioned this further. She was only in her 30’s. I have known her for 8 years and we would have a chat and a coffee in each other’s apartment over the years. I am still in shock and can’t stop thinking about her. Has anyone else ever gone through this?

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15 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Suicides are the worst to have to deal with. I lost a good friend who never could get over the accidental death of his brother. We almost knew he would do it…prayed he wouldn’t. Everyone tried their hardest to snap him out of it. Signs? Yeah they were there and in retrospect there probably wasn’t anything we could have done to stop him short of hand cuffing him to a chair.

I can only say I am sorry for your loss and try to remember the good times you had and to cherish the days you have on this planet.

octopussy's avatar

@Cruiser, thanks, I think I have a lot to learn about people who are depressed, so many people seem to suffer from bi-polar and depression these days that’s its hard to know which people may follow through with suicide.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

I’m so sorry. Sometimes there simply are no warning signs.. it’s a very strange thing. Sometimes people commit suicide and people that saw them the same day said they acted very normally.

Depression is obviously a possible warning sign of suicidal thoughts, but there are very many depressed people who are not suicidal, and I don’t doubt that there are many suicidal people who are not depressed.

It is perfectly natural to feel guilt and worry that you could have done more. Suicides seem often to leave a difficult emotional residue in the people left behind.

I would say that you have to not beat yourself up about it. Had you seen her on the day in question, you might not have “spotted” anything anyway. I have heard that people that are truly set on the path of suicide will tend to be very calm, as if they have risen above the terrible feelings and life situation that led them to be suicidal, and have found a resolution.

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t think it’s something you can always tell that is on someone’s mind.

I went through a similar situation with my best friend in the whole world. Luckily his story had a better ending. He has had a very rough life and depression was always sort of there in the background, though never seemed to interfere too much. He rose through the ranks at his job, finished law school, etc. Financial and family problems were always present though. We talked a lot about it and he would always assure me that suicide was never an issue. He and I live far apart now, and he goes through times where he won’t answer his phone or contact anyone for months. So, I didn’t think of it when this happened last fall. I saw him in July and not again until Christmas. I got maybe one phone call between. But I kept sending him holiday cards and notes in the mail to let him know that I missed him and loved him (upon the advice of Fluther, actually) because I was concerned. Then, at Christmas, he told me that he tried to commit suicide and took a whole bunch of pills but got scared and went to the hospital. He’s getting help now. He sees a therapist and is on medication. Still I’m terrified now if I don’t hear from him. It has just changed my world to know that he would ever…

Anyway, I guess there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent it, especially if suicide doesn’t appear imminent at the time. It can come, seemingly to outsiders, out of nowhere. If the person hides what he/she is really going through, then you can’t be held responsible even though you may feel it.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Sorry about your friend.Two of my friends killed themselves and they isolated themselves from their loved ones a few weeks before they did it.I don’t know if anyone could have stopped them.

octopussy's avatar

Thanks everyone.
@ubersiren, at least your friend cried out for help, he is lucky to have you in his life. It must be such a tortured existence for people that go through with it and don’t even want to seek help. To think that death is their only escape is incredibly sad.

pallen123's avatar

Some signs include:

- giving things away (possessions to friends and family, etc.)
– talking about “ending it all” or “ending the pain” or “stopping this” etc.
– period of seeming sad or lacking emotion, then sudden unexplained elation (often times the depressed person is relieved for a period after they decide that they will “end” the pain). This doesn’t always occur and is very difficult to detect, but a sudden emotional reversal after a longer bout of depression—with no clear explanation—if worth exploring with someone.

Sophief's avatar

I guess there can be many signs. Depressed people don’t always show them though. To the outside world they can be like any ‘normal’ person, but inside they are broken. People can cry for for help if they believe they can be helped. Your neighbour obviously didn’t feel she could be. I’m sure you were a comfort to her, you sound like you were friendly to her and that would of meant a lot to her. Your friend is at peace now, all her mental and emotional pain has gone. There is nothing you could of done, if there was then she would of let you know.

davidbetterman's avatar

My friend was severely depressed because his GF whom he had gotten pregnant refused to allow him into their lives. He really wanted to be the child’s daddy and do all the daddy things you do with your child.
He was drinking heavily and doing drugs when he hanged himself.

Nothing anyone could do. The girl wound up marrying his best friend and having 4 more children with him.

loser's avatar

Not really much to add to these great answers. Just wanted to express my condolences. Hang in there!

Strauss's avatar

I am sorry to hear about your friend. Do not feel guilty for not being able to see it. Suicide is a result of pain and despair. Your friend is beyond all pain now, and I think she would like you to remember the good times you had with her. Think of her laugh, her smile, her funny quirks.

JeffVader's avatar

The only real sign to look for is a sudden elevation of mood following a long period of depression. & I mean elation, it’s as if the person doesn’t have a care in the world…. because once the decision is made, they no longer do.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am impressed with the many good and supportive answers already provided to this question.

Depression and suicide are serious and unfortunately common. I am sorry so many of you have first hand experience with one or the other or both. That is a reality of life.

If any of you or those you love are depressed, make sure they get the help they need before it spirals out of control. There are ways to help.

I am always willing to answer questions and help guide people to what resources they can access near where they live.

Sophief's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence That is very kind of you. But unfortunately not all medications help, sometimes I guess the depression is far too deep.

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