Ignoring the Warning Signs

I have a problem with the suicide warning signs.

One side of me believes that having warning signs ignores that fact that ending your life can be an extremely impulsive act (how many times have we heard, “He/she was so happy, I don’t understand.”). The other side of me feels that having warning signs is good because they provide decent identifiers that can start a positive process but who is taking the time to learn these signs? I doubt people bput a list of them on their fridge for quick reference just in case.

When I was in grade 11, before I attempted to end my life, I came across the suicide warning signs online. I told myself that if I acted out these signs then people would know I needed help. I began ignoring friend’s phone calls, not going out, wandering the school alone at lunch, mentioned suicide and even gave away my lunch money to friends. These were all warning signs according to the list I was looking at but no one said anything.

I was never taken seriously as a teen and/or I overwhelmed people so much that it was easier to do nothing.

Regardless, my attempt was impulsive. During my time of acting out the signs (I do not know the time frame between the two events) and my attempt I just wanted someone to help me. I had no plan. The actual attempt was from a spark of “fuck it” and I used the only thing I had, Zyprexa. I guess overall though, how I had been living my life up until the point of my attempt was a giant warning sign (keeping in mind my suicidality to the point of where I make solid plans and attempt are as a result of psych drugs side effects).

I guess what I want to get people thinking about is how you never know what someone is going to do. I don’t mean for this to sound like you are helpless but warnings signs will never be a guarantee. What I believe should be happening is constant checking in. Don’t wait for potential signs (but don’t ignore them either). Don’t let someone get to that point (although you will not always be able to help that). Provide that trusting and supportive relationship right away so you don’t have to wait for them to seclude themselves, give away items or increase their risk taking behaviour. Skip all that and have the relationship with them where they can immediately tell you, “I feel like trying to kill myself, I need your help.”

May 2014 I had those relationships in my life (or at least chose to act on those relationships, the teen mind is strange to begin with). I reached out and told them I wanted to die and they stood by me, checked in on me and reminded me that I was loved. B even had to help me through my Effexor withdrawal which was another adventure.

Be present, be supportive, show love and believe.


9 thoughts on “Ignoring the Warning Signs

  1. I can honestly, say, being less that a week away from the 15th “anniversary” of my brother’s suicide, it is almost impossible to predict something like this. There is something impulsive about suicide…granted, there are some people – being chronically depressed – that a certain level of awareness is important and should be kept; but there are people that sink to such a momentary depth, that the impulse to do it overrides any and all reason and rationale.

    I’ve always had the attitude that there is only one response to the threat of suicide: Address it immediately. People who threaten or plan it either mean it or they don’t. If they mean to do it, then it gets addressed to prevent it. If they don’t mean it, then they are being manipulative and it needs to be addressed for that aspect.

    Suicide is a topic that seriously hits close to home for me on a number of levels…thanks for posting this!

    • I am very sorry for the loss of your brother. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be a surviving family member.

      You do need to address a threat of suicide immediately and if I believe someone might be at risk I’d rather be wrong then say nothing and something happens. I told a friend once when he was threatening that his other friends and myself had to tell someone in authority and I would rather he be mad at me and never talk to me again then for him to be dead. I am glad to say he is fine and is good with his life.

      You mention manipulation and that is the reason why many will ignore it. I have always said that if something self destructive is being used to get “attention” then we need to know why someone feels they need to go to those extremes to get what they need. It’s still just as valid. Majority of my threats are empty but I most times have no other way of telling people that I am hurting.

      Thank you so much for your comment. Your thoughts on the topic of suicide are very important!

  2. I really appreciate your thoughts on this topic. When my daughter attempted suicide, it was very impulsive as well. In retrospect she may have provided some little clues, but for the most part, it took everyone, including herself by surprise. Your post is a good reminder that there are not always the typical signs of warning. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience.

      I know from my parents, given what they know now they would have done things differently. Sometimes learning these things is not always done in the easiest way but it’s learning you will not forget.

  3. Something I never hear are the symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts, and actions that I had a a child and now as an older adult. I don’t want to go over it with a fine toothed comb, but I always find it interesting these, “signs of suicide”.

    Most people’s perception of death is scary. Suicide especially. Not for us. Assisted suicide is legal for terminally ill folks (in my state) who’ve been diagnosed with 6 months of life or less to live. I am trying to help it along~~~I do not get cancer screenings, I starve myself often, hoping my heart will give out, and I try to stay as dehydrated as possible. I hope someday soon I can go. This is the first time I have ever told anyone, not even my T that I do all this. A part of me wants to get better, but not really, I self sabotage every step of the way. I do wish to die, I want to be gone. The sooner the better.

    I starve, I get thin, tell people that I hate food, I exercise, they don’t say much, and if they do, I have the answer. I say, “I have been on this really healthy diet of organic whole foods, I don’t eat animal or anything that comes from one, I have lost all this weight and I feel great! Don’t I look great!?” Such BS!

    Sometimes they look at me with suspicion, but no one intervenes. They see the signs, but they say nothing! Just how I like it. I get my head in this ‘no food to the brain’ mode, and it feels awesome! It’s an old habit and it feels good. I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to address it with my T. I don’t want to talk about it to her or anyone. I want to be left alone. I flat out don’t care!

    My only honest hope is death. Life is just too hard for me. I am living, but it is not what I want. Don’t be sad. I feel the happiest when I think about death and that I might die soon. I am getting old! Yippee!

    Why is it that we all have to think the way the DSM says? Why are we looked at as “crazy”? Maybe this is “normal” considering the life I have led. It is a consequence of 40 long years of abuse.

    I can hear it, “she nuts”, “she crazy”, “what a loon” I’ve heard it all. Do i care? Not ONE BIT!!! This is who I am. So what! Not only do I accept it, I look forward to it. I will die one day. That will be the day of celebration!

    That will be my day of peace I hope.

    Thanks for opening this discussion. You rock!

    • My “lack” of signs actually had one psychiatrist theorize I was bipolar…no….

      I would like you to stay around Dee. I enjoy talking to you and I know you have so much to give. I understand the feeling though as I have done some of the same. I guess one potential good thing out of this is I don’t fear death and it sounds like you don’t either. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing (I find it less stressful). But if sometimes you engage in certain behaviours because you want someone to see and they don’t then that just blows. I honestly feel like people just don’t say anything because they don’t want the responsibility. I guess that’s fair but then go make a private phone call or something!

      I’ve never known what to do sometimes because I want to respect a person’s right to decide what to do with their life (and I have been there) but the other side of me believes that if someone keeps cutting themselves off then there is no chance for things to get better. But I guess some people don’t want that. I know I didn’t want one point.

      Thank you Dee for sharing! Much love coming your way! xoxo

  4. Great post. I am not currently suicidal but I always feel that it is lurking around the corner. Absolutely agree that relationships make an enormous difference. One of my biggest supporters is my psychologist who will just ring me randomly to check on me…it’s a great feeling.

    • I’m so glad your psychologist will go that extra mile and call you! Feeling suicidal is a pretty rotten feeling and I can relate to feeling like it’s always lurking. I believe so long as you have supports in place then it can rear it’s ugly face and you can kick it back.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Having people in your life who truly get it and get you is a must! If I didn’t have the people in my life like my treatment team, friends, family etc I don’t know how I’d cope. We all need people. We all need to feel wanted and loved and stuff. I think warning signs are just that but the real problem lies unaddressed unless people speak out and address it. XX

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