The MHS Journals

Our blog archive of insights and intel


Help A Loved One or Friend; Look Out For These Signs of Suicidal Behavior

May 5, 2024

Updated: May 8, 2024

Suicide is a traumatic experience for an entire community. As there is a diverse range of signs, symptoms, and causes, understanding the many signs can help you reach out to a loved one. If you are concerned that someone you know may be having suicidal thoughts, learn to spot common warning signs and how adult DBT can help them deal with their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Changes in Mood and Mood Swings

While no single sign can completely predict attempted suicide, many individuals who are considering show mood changes:

  • Anxiety
  • Shame/humiliation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger/agitation
  • Sudden calmness

While a sense of calmness may initially come as a relief, many individuals experience an appearance of calmness as their mood changes from depression to suicidal thoughts. Not everyone processes emotions the same. Debilitating sadness could lead some to suicidal thinking, while extreme shame could be the cause for others. Few individuals will express all of these mood changes, so look for individual ones that are unusually intense or long-lasting.

Unusual Behaviors and Behavioral Changes

While behavioral changes can vary dramatically, one or more of these changes can be signs that a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawal or isolation
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Unusual sleep habits
  • Increased aggression or fatigue

Do not wait to ask a loved one about these actions. Whether these actions change as a result of a sudden life event or not, they can be signs that a person is considering suicide as an option for dealing with their pain. Alcohol and self-medication can be signs that a person is dealing with intense emotions, even if they may not be expressing any unusual emotions.

Suicidal or Depressed Talk

Communication is perhaps the most straightforward way a person considering suicide may give hints or show warning signs. Remember that while not everyone presents all warning signs, many of these signs are connected with particular moods or actions. Any or all of these communication changes should not be ignored:

  • Discussing ways to kill oneself
  • Talk of hopelessness or purposelessness
  • Communicating unbearable pain
  • Lack of communication
  • Sudden and extreme mood swings
  • Direct talk of suicide

Discussing suicide should not be seen as a cry for attention. Instead, it is often a sign that the individual needs immediate help. Many individuals who attempt suicide have communicated with at least one loved one before the attempt. Treat any discussion about suicide seriously, and contact a local health care professional if you suspect any suicidal thinking.

How DBT Can Help prevent the Suicide of a Loved One

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms of suicidal thinking, DBT can help. From mindfulness training to emotional regulation, you will gain access to the skills necessary to combat debilitative suicidal thinking. Whether the depressive thoughts are suicidal or not, DBT can assist in emotional regulation for any individual who is struggling with extreme emotional turmoil.

Contact MHS Today for Suicide Prevention

Find out more about DBT, suicide warning signs, and assistance with suicidal or depressive thoughts by scheduling an appointment today. At MHS, we serve Minnesotans and provide DBT at both our Edina and Woodbury locations. Find the help and hope you need to assist a loved one who is struggling with suicidal thoughts.