Overcoming the primal imperative to just simply survive, suicide mystifies and scares us; just the mention has the power to quickly hush a conversation, and for the one contemplating it, to drive them to depths of secrecy—constructed of pain, hopelessness, and even banal embarrassment and resignation.
The most important thing to overcome may be the stigma; for the one contemplating suicide there is help in friends and family, or even anonymously at hotlines and schools. And for those seeing something in another that makes them wonder if they should say something, better to get it wrong than later deeply regret staying silent, especially when intervention most often does work.
There Are Signs
Talking about suicide — Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…,” and “I’d be better off dead.”
Seeking out lethal means — Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death — Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future — Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out.”). Belief that things will never change or get better.
Self-loathing, self-hatred — Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me.”).
Getting affairs in order — Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye — Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
Withdrawing from others — Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behavior — Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
Sudden sense of calm — A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.
Giving things away — Gifting prized and sentimental possessions to people, saying they just want you to have something to remember them by or that they will not need an item anymore could mean they have made a decision.
There Is Help
Of course there are friends, family, and school counselors, but there are also anonymous resources including hotlines.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Oregon Partnership Lifeline/National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255, 1-888-457-4838 (military help line)
Oregon Suicide Hotlines
Benton County Resources
Benton County Mental Health Crisis Line
Suicide Support Groups for Oregon (includes a Corvallis group)
Oregon State University Suicide Risk Reduction Program
Online Crisis Chats
*Signs from helpguide.org
by Stuart Jackson and Rob Goffins