When someone is hurting and/or thinking about suicide, they will sometimes show signs of risk. They may appear sad, angry, or '“tuned out",” sleeping more then usual, drinking or using other substances more than usual, fighting with close ones, getting themselves hurt while drinking, or spending a lot of time alone.

Very rarely does one person show all these signs. Usually it will be one or two, if any. After someone dies by suicide, people often wish there had been more warning signs along, so they could have gotten help sooner. No one is perfect: Service providers, close family, don’t always see the signs. It’s important to know that it’s no one’s fault if someone dies by suicide. Suicide can often be an impulsive act--especially when tied to alcohol use, relationship turbulence, and sleep deprivation.  

Research shows that making it harder for someone to access lethal means can save lives. Safety planning with a person at high risk for suicide, providing continuous support and supervision during times of heightened risk, and removing loaded guns, pills, and alcohol from the house can prevent a suicide.

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This learning circle also discusses that beyond removing risks in someone’s environment, people can also use small acts of kindness to help people feel cared about.

In studies, people who received short, supportive and non-demanding notes or acts of kindness after feeling suicidal and low were much more likely to seek help, not attempt or die by suicide, when compared to people who didn’t get these messages.

“Non-demanding” means to do something without asking or expecting the other person to do anything.

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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
— Aesop

References:

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Beals, J., Manson, S.M., Whitesell, N.R., Spicer, P., Novins, D.K. & Mitchell, C.M. (2005). Prevalence of DSM-IV disorders and attendant help-seeking in 2 American Indian reservation populations. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 1, 99-08.

Beautrais, A. L., & New Zealand. (2005). Suicide prevention: A review of evidence of risk and protective factors, and points of effective intervention. Wellington, N.Z: Ministry of Health.

Caetano R., Kaplan, M.S., & Huguet, N. (2013). Acute alcohol intoxication and suicide among United States ethnic/racial groups: Findings from the national violent death reporting system. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37, 5, 839-846.

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Craig, J. and Hull-Jilly, D. (2012). Characteristics of suicide among Alaska Native and Alaska non-Native People, 2003–2008. State of Alaska Epidemiology. Available at: http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/bulletins/docs/rr2012_01.pdf (Accessed: 2 November 2016).

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