There have been dramatic increases in the suicide statistics of two segments of the population.

The very young and the very old.

Teenagers take their life at an alarming ratio to other forms of the death and the elderly are ending their life by their own hand more frequently than ever.

Always believe, and take seriously, anyone who threatens to take his own life.  Three quarters of all those who succeed in doing so have previously threatened or attempted to commit the act.

Make every effort you can to dissuade a depressed person, but start by listening to what he is saying.  Keep him talking and pay attention to what he is saying.  Remember that you have been singled out as the one to whom he is crying out for help and there must be some bond between the two of you.  That you feel a deep-down rapport with his problem is the best possible hope.

Extreme depression, the condition afflicting most would-be suicides, is both diagnosable and treatable.  Make it clear that the person is not at fault himself and that there are biochemical factors beyond his control and that he can receive help.  Express this in whatever way you think the person will understand.  In short, there is hope!  The important thing is to gain time and to keep the threat from being carried out.  While you are trying to prevent the ultimate tragedy you must attempt to send for someone else who can take charge in a professional manner.

Among all emotional illnesses, the prognosis for full recovery in this situation is unusually good.  Once the individual is under treatment, do not assume that you immediately can relax.  Full recovery does not happen overnight, and once suicide has been threatened or attempted, be on the alert for a repeated effort.

Statistically, a threat of suicide must be considered especially critical if the individual:

  • Specifies the means by which the act will be committed.  This is an extremely important point, according to many professionals.
  • Has a known problem with drugs or alcohol.
  • Makes the threat near the anniversary of the deeply felt loss of a loved one.  You will see this the elderly.
  • Has recently undergone some extremely unhappy experience, such as death in the family, a divorce or some other event that might result in a feeling of guilt or blame.
  • Is not really close to any other person and has no deep emotional ties (whether or not there are children, a spouse or other relatives).
  • Had a close relative or family member commit suicide.
  • Has, or has recently had, a serious illness or suffers from a chronic physical disorder.
  • Has recently evidenced deep depression, decreased appetite, insomnia, neglect of personal appearance, or inability to make decisions.
  • Is a young person with at least one dead or absent parent.  One in five suicides are committed by someone under the age of 30. 

Personal Note:  You never know when your kind words or actions might make the difference when a person is contemplating suicide.  Being aware of the signs that are exhibited by someone who is contemplating suicide might help you prevent a tragedy.