Know the Signs of Suicide, Save a Life

15263985455_ea99849da9_k

“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.”

I’m sure everyone has seen this quote (source unknown) before, but to anyone who has dealt with losing someone to suicide, it’s a hard truth. It’s not only hard to accept it as truth, but it’s hard to think about the fact that your lost loved one was to a point in their life when they felt like this was the only answer—that there was no way it would ever get better. It’s rough.

This article is part of How-To Geek’s Mental Health Awareness Day. You can read more about what we’re doing here.

The last three people I’ve personally known who died did so by their own hand. Not in car crashes, not of natural causes. Not by someone else’s hand. By their own. And all of these people were under 25 years old.

Most recently, a very close family member of mine lost their significant other of six years to suicide. With this choice, he left his friends and family with a myriad of questions–“why?” being the primary one. And that’s the thing: no one really knows. A lot of broken people, most who will never be the same again, were left to pick up the pieces with essentially no closure. They have, of course, tried to put the pieces together. Digging through his social profiles, files on his computer—anything, really—just trying to find any tidbit, any little thing, that could possibly give them insight into why he did what he did. But there will probably never be a definitive answer. No one can ever tell these people what had been going on in his head for the hours, days, and weeks prior to his death.

A year or so before that, my own cousin committed suicide at his home. He had made some bad decisions—some that he clearly felt were irreversible—and couldn’t live with what the outcome would be.

His mother found him.

Just think about that for a second. If you have children, imagine finding one of them dead in their bedroom. By their own doing. One of the hardest things about dealing with him being gone is watching his mother and grandmother become shells of the people they used to be. This is a mountain they’ll never fully get over—they’ve had to re-learn how to live. That was three years ago, and it still rocks them to their bones, almost as if it just happened last week.

A few years before that, a good friend of mine lost his sister to suicide, only months after losing his father the same way. Two people in his family, gone by their own choice. While I didn’t know his father or his reasons for making the choice he did, I know the sister held a tremendous amount of guilt because of her father’s death. She blamed herself, and felt the only out was joining him.

But that’s not the answer. Suicide is never the answer. When someone commits suicide, the people closest to them are left to figure out how to move forward—how to go on with their lives. And that’s the thing here: there’s a chance that they choose not to move forward at all. In so many cases, it’s a snowball effect. A dark, black, hopeless snowball.

If you feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless, don’t let it get worse. There’s hope. Now more than ever, there are resources available to help you. The Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is always available, with caring volunteers that genuinely want to help you live. It Gets Better is a great resource as well, and while it mostly focuses on LGBT folks, it also deals with depression and other similar issues. And if you think a friend or loved one might be in this position, please learn the signs and develop a plan as soon as possible. You could be the difference between someone living and dying.

I wish I would’ve known the signs earlier. I think about some of the things my cousin said before his passing, and now I know where his head was. That’s what breaks my heart more than anything—suicide can be prevented if you watch for the signs. But that’s thing—so many people don’t know what to look for until it’s too late.

So please, I implore you, keep your eyes open and watch for signs. Don’t lose someone you love to suicide. Don’t lose yourself to suicide. Call someone. Use the resources available to you. Post anonymously on reddit. Find a forum. Just do something.

Don’t let go. Don’t give up.

This post is in dedication to Robert, Sean, and Sagan. The impact of your loss is immeasurable. 

Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo/Flickr

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at HTG, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, spinning legs on the bike, chugging away on the 6-string, or being disappointed in the Bulls.