People at risk of suicide display warning signs. It's important to learn these signs, be alert to them and know what to do next. Most suicides come during an acute but temporary crisis. Helping someone through a crisis may save a life. Ask if the person is feeling suicidal. Show that you care. Offer to take that person to get help and stay in touch.
If you have concerns about yourself or someone else, please call the national crisis line for the military and veterans at 1-800-273-8255, send a text to 838255, or open a chat line at the website. It's staffed 24/7 by mental health professionals, and it's free and confidential.Experts say that people who may be at risk of suicide often:
- Appear sad, depressed, anxious or agitated.
- Express hopelessness or say they lack reasons to live.
- Are unable to sleep, or sleep all the time.
- Are withdrawn from friends, family and society.
- Feel trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Have frequent and dramatic mood changes.
- Feel excessively guilty or ashamed, or feel they have been a failure and that their family and friends would be better off without them.
- Abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Put his or her affairs in order, tie up loose ends and/or make out a will.
- Seek access to firearms, pills or other means of harming oneself.
- Give away prized possessions.
- Call or visit family and/or friends as if to say goodbye.
Sources: Defense Department Suicide Prevention Office, Veterans Crisis Line, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
This article is part of a special Huffington Post series, "Invisible Casualties," in which we shine a spotlight on suicide-prevention efforts within the military. To see all the articles, blog posts, audio and video, click here.
If you need help in the U.S. and you're not part of the military, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
This story appears in a special Labor Day issue of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Aug. 30 in the iTunes App store.