We’ve all heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” When it comes to suicide, knowledge has the power to save a life. Part of our #bettercanhappen campaign is to make sure every Long Islander – young and old – can recognize the signs of suicide and know what to do if they believe a friend or family member may be suicidal or in crisis.
What are the warning signs?
Most people who are suicidal give clues before they attempt to end their lives. Often, these clues go unnoticed or are ignored.
Some of these clues might include:
- Talking about death – any mention of dying, disappearing, people being “better off” without them, or plans for hurting themselves
- Changes in personality – sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, apathetic
- Changes in behavior – trouble concentrating on school, work, or routine tasks; abusing drugs or alcohol; acting impulsively
- Isolation – stop hanging out with friends, drop out of school activities
- Changes in sleep patterns – insomnia, oversleeping, nightmares
- Changes in eating habits – loss of appetite; significant weight gain or loss
- Diminished sexual interest – impotence, lack of desire
- Low self-esteem – feeling worthless, shame, guilt, or self-hatred
- Feelings of hopelessness – believing that things will never get better or that nothing will change
- A sudden lift of depression – someone who’s been feeling depressed who suddenly seems very calm and happy. This calm, happy feeling could be because they’ve made up their mind that they’re going to kill themselves and, thus, know the pain is going to end.
What should I do if I think someone may be suicidal?
Concerned about a friend or family member? Here’s how you can help:
- Always take suicidal comments very seriously.
- Try not to act shocked.
- Validate your friend’s feelings by being non-judgmental and non-confrontational.
- Listen to your friend and be as understanding as possible. Help them see that there are other options besides suicide.
- Allow your friend to express emotions in any way he/she wants (crying, yelling, cursing, etc). However, do not allow your friend to become violent or hurt himself or herself.
- Do not be afraid to talk to someone about suicide. Talking about suicide will not encourage someone to kill himself or herself. However, it is best to focus on what the person is feeling rather than trying to talk them out of it.
- Do not try to handle the situation by yourself. A suicidal person needs assistance from qualified mental health professionals. Give them Long Island Crisis Center’s hotline number: 516-679-1111 and website: www.licconline.org and/or encourage your friend to speak with a parent, teacher, or counselor.
- If your friend has a plan to commit suicide, you must immediately tell someone who can intervene. In some cases you may need to call 911.
- If someone tells you that you need to keep his or her suicidal intentions a secret, you must never keep that “secret.” Although you may feel like you are violating your friend’s trust, you may very well be saving their life by getting them help. You always have the chance to repair that friendship. If they kill themselves, you will never have that chance.
- Because suicidal feelings may come and go, you should follow up with your friend on a regular basis to make sure he or she is doing okay. If your friend becomes suicidal again, take immediate action to help him or her get help.
How To Help Someone On Social Media
If someone you know is posting concerning content on social media or talking about suicide, it’s important to speak up right away. Encourage your friend to contact Long Island Crisis Center at (516) 679-1111 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. If your friend has a plan to commit suicide, you must immediately tell someone who can intervene. In some cases you may need to call 911.
In addition to these steps, you can also contact the safety teams for the following social media sites:
Click here to report suicidal content on Facebook. Be sure to fill out the form as completely as possible so the Facebook safety team can investigate.
Click here to report self harm or suicidal content on Twitter. Twitter will contact the reported user and offer resources.
Click here to learn what to do if you’re concerned about a friend or follower on Instagram
Click here to report a safety concern regarding a Snapchat account or a snap or chat you have received.
To report content on YouTube, click on the more icon and then the flag icon under a video. For issue, select “Harmful Dangerous Acts” and then choose “Suicide or Self-Injury.” Be sure to select submit at the bottom in order to send your report.