People from all walks of life can feel suicidal. Being aware of some of the risk factors for suicide can help you recognise when someone needs help.
The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year was connect, communicate and care.
If you notice that someone you care about is feeling down, start a caring conversation with them. People who are at risk of suicide often don’t tell others how they’re feeling and find it difficult to ask for help.
Every year, around 500 New Zealanders take their own lives, according to the Ministry of Health.
Some risk factors for suicide to look out for include:
- relationship breakdowns
- mental illness
- previous suicide attempt
- victim of trauma/abuse
- major life change or disappointment
- financial problems.
Some signs that a person may be thinking about suicide:
- Isolation: staying away from friends and family
- Not loving life: stopping activities they usually enjoy
- Sadness: crying a lot and feeling full of despair
- Anxiety: overly worried about things and maybe even having panic attacks, which can cause a racing heartbeat, breathlessness, dizziness and feelings of extreme fear
- Mood changes: having a rollercoaster of ups and downs or suddenly seeming happy after they’ve been depressed or suicidal
- Substance abuse: using alcohol or drugs to try and feel better
- Fuzzy thinking: problems with focussing and remembering information
- Low self-esteem: feeling guilt, shame and worthlessness
- Appetite changes: eating more or less than usual
- Lack of self-care: neglecting their appearance and personal hygiene
- Self-harm: signs they are hurting themselves, such as cutting skin
- Accessing harmful items: such as a gun or rope
- Death/suicide interest: they may become overly interested in suicide or death or say they want to die or take their own life.
A person who is suicidal might show some of these signs. Alternatively, a person may show some of these signs but not be suicidal. If you think somebody is at risk, it’s OK to ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide.
For more information, see our page on suicide prevention.