Yesterday my husband and I participated in an Out of the Darkness Walk, a fundraiser sponsored by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (afsp). It got me to thinking . . . are you the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with depression and hopelessness? Have you ever said, “I’m tormented by not knowing if they’re safe”? Do you have an uneasy feeling something’s wrong, but can’t put your finger on it? Have you ever heard your child say, “I feel so worthless. What’s the use. My life doesn’t matter. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up”? If so, this is for you.
The information here could be crucial for you and your child’s well-being. It’s from The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website. These are the warning signs that may mean a person is a suicide risk. The danger is greater when one of these behaviors is new, has increased or could be related to a painful event, loss, or change.
Should your child exhibit any of these, please seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained, volunteer counselors are ready and available to talk with you or the despondent individual 24/7 including holidays.
- Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves. Pay attention to this. Don’t ignore it. You never know when it’s a genuine plea for help.
- Looking for a way to kill themselves: searching online, hiding pills, obtaining the means like a weapon or the key to your gun case (if you have guns in your home always keep them locked up).
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others. Repeatedly apologizing for this.
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs; parents may only see hints of this.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or isolating for long periods.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
One mom I know who has personal experience with this, wanted me to add 4 more things to this list:
1. A sudden, unexplained change in typical behavior (i.e. instead of being sad, they’re happy).
2. Taking down decorations in their room; favorite posters or special pictures for no apparent reason.
3. Giving away personal belongings, especially if it’s something you know has been important to them.
4. Acting much more loving toward friends or family members than usual, in a way that’s out of character for them; being a little too nice to a sibling they always fight with.
If you have nagging doubts, call a counselor immediately.
If you don’t know one, call the toll-free number listed above. At least you can talk with someone who’s knowledgeable. They can help you determine your next step.
Don’t delay. You don’t want to have any regrets.
Times like this call for courageous love. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You discover you were wrong and your child will be mad at you for interfering in their personal business. But that’s okay. They’ll get over it. They’re life is worth the risk.
In these hard situations, we have to be willing to be the enemy – for a season. One day they might understand; they may even forgive us.
But if not, we can be strong. We can take it, because our love is big enough and because we’re willing to do anything to save them. One day we may even hear them say, “Thank you for caring that much about me.” Oh God, we hope we will.
Sadly, when a suicide occurs, family and close friends often say they never saw it coming. They were blind-sided. It’s my hope, with this information, that won’t happen to you. Now you can be proactive. You don’t need to have any regrets.
This Scripture verse always encourages me:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Proverbs 3:56-6, The Message)
Here’s an excellent book on understanding suicide written by a woman who’s struggled with it herself. She’s one of the leading authorities on the subject in America : Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison.