Suicide Awareness Month: How to recognise symptoms of suicidal behaviour

Suicidal people try to hide their emotions. Picture: Unsplash Stormseeker

Suicidal people try to hide their emotions. Picture: Unsplash Stormseeker

Published Sep 13, 2023


Because no one wants to talk about it, suicide is something that often people think happens to “other people”; that it can never happen to someone close to them.

And when it does, most people are left feeling guilty because they never saw it coming.

While those who are feeling suicidal tend to hide it very well, there are tell-tale signs that if you look closely enough, you can pick up and possibly help that person before it’s too late.

Here are signs of suicidal behaviour that might be easy to miss but that one should be aware of.

Withdrawing from activities and relationships

Look out for a change in social interaction. Suicidal individuals often tend to isolate themselves from their loved ones and the activities they once enjoyed.

Suicidal individuals often tend to isolate themselves. Picture: Pexels Mart Productions

Extreme mood swings

While it’s normal for people to go through different moods, it’s not normal to experience extreme mood swings in short periods of time.

Look out for signs of extreme sadness and hopelessness, the sudden bursts of happiness.

Depressed individuals occasionally experience a brief mood uplift after making the decision to end their lives, as they believe they have found a solution to their problems.

Look out for self-harm behaviours

Self-harm, such as cutting, burning, or excessive substance abuse, is often linked to suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

Visible marks, scars, or sudden changes in an individual's appearance could be indications of self-harm, and these should never be ignored.

Expressing feelings of worthlessness

Constantly saying things like “I'm a burden to everyone” or “I'm a failure” can suggest someone is experiencing feelings of worthlessness or guilt. These types of negative thoughts may push someone towards contemplating suicide.

Expressing suicidal feelings

When someone tells you things like “I want to die” or “I can't go on anymore”, do not ignore it.

These should taken very seriously. Do not try to downplay what they are expressing by saying that they are “being dramatic”, or to “get over it”.

Recognise the significance of situational factors

There are major life events that can trigger suicidal behaviour. This could be anything from the death of a loved one to losing their jobs. Bullying and harassment have become a major problem among young people.

If you recognise these signs in someone you love, make sure they get the help that they desperately need.

Contact SADAG on 0800 567 567.