20 'Red Flags' People Experienced Before They Were Suicidal
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
Sometimes, suicidal thoughts can surprise us by creeping up slowly, seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe you’ve never felt suicidal before and are wondering how things got so bad so quickly. Or maybe you haven’t had suicidal thoughts for a long time, believing you were “out of the woods” when they turned up again, uninvited.
But it’s possible to take preemptive action against suicidal feelings before they occur. It’s important to watch for your personal warning signs because if caught early, getting help may become easier.
We wanted to know the warning signs that could indicate someone might be sliding into feeling suicidal, so we asked members of our Mighty community to share a personal “red flag” that let them know they might be starting to feel suicidal.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Whenever I wanted to stop feeling everything and just become numb. Once I reach that point, I’m near my breaking point to where it all becomes too much for me to handle. If I don’t feel anything, then maybe I can hang on just a little longer.” — Bree N.
2. “I start isolating myself. I start to cry a lot. I’m not one to cry. I have to force myself out of bed. I start thinking about how the world would be better without me. I don’t really have anyone too close to me, so those thoughts are really easy to get.” — Samantha M.
3. “It’s an unpleasant reality, but just keeping myself clean becomes harder and harder until I stop. I get it in my head that there’s no point getting up to shower only to do it again tomorrow… I think that’s something we all need to talk about more.” — Hollie S.
4. “I can seem to snap at nothing and will have a big fight with loved ones and be unable to control my anger. Sometimes I will be crying uncontrollably. Or worse, I might go really numb and quiet and tell everyone that everything is fine and be utterly emotionless and withdrawn.” — Jacqui K.
5. “The biggest warning sign for me is when I don’t care about the things I live for: writing, art, my horses and animals, making a difference. When I stop caring, I know I’ve lost myself in suicidal ideation and will struggle with the desire to attempt suicide.” — Sarah H.
6. “I either slept 10 plus hours or never slept at all, and I stopped talking to my friends about my day-to-day life.” — Devon S.
7. “[The] biggest warning sign for me is losing my emotions, like all my senses are dulled. It’s like life hurts too much for me to even feel anything anymore. That’s when I know things are really bad — when I can’t even care enough to cry, when I run out of tears.” — Vickie S.
8. “I stopped wanting to cook, talk, move. My depression gets worse and I start putting things in boxes because I can’t stand to look at them. I hide books and clothes because they remind me of good times and it’s not a good time for me.” — Becca T.
9. “My warning sign is when I don’t crave any food whatsoever, I never feel hungry and no food sounds good, ever. Once I realize I haven’t eaten much lately or that I say no to snack foods I usually love, I’m in the beginning of an episode.” — Zoe R.
10. “I start to struggle with normal everyday things which I can handle when I’m well. Depression and/or anxiety hit and I try to push through as I’m not sure what else to do, and I end up so low that I start having suicidal thoughts. It’s like being at the top of a steep hill on a bike and knowing you’re about to be pushed off the edge with no brakes, and you aren’t even sure why you’re at the top in the first place or how to move away from the edge. I wish I had a way of intervening earlier but I’m yet to find those strategies.” — Lucy M.
11. “I push everyone away, even my therapist sometimes. I don’t have the energy to talk to anyone. Actually, this was the only time my chronic suicidal thoughts scared my therapist. Up until this point, she never thought I would act on them, but when I started shutting her out, she was concerned.” — Alyssa P.
12. “I actually feel it weeks before it becomes serious. I start losing interest in everything. I don’t want to get out of the house and everything seems like a chore or impossible to do on my own. Last night I completely shut my husband out. I didn’t even know he was talking to me. I was just lost in space.” — Crystal T.
13. “I stop sleeping as much and my nightmares get worse. I’m tired, but it’s like having a bunch of energy while at the same time feeling nothing. Usually when I’m like this I tell all of my supports because I know the next couple of weeks/months are going to be tough.” — Tanna S.
14. “Right before I plunge into a major depression, I get a superhero dream. It is the most enjoyable, wonderful dream. I can fly and have super powers. No villain can stand against me, and I rescue people. The dream feels so real, and so delicious that I don’t want to wake up from it. When I have that dream, I know I’m in for a dark time, and how bad the depression will be is proportional to how sweet the super hero dream is.” — Penelope P.
15. “Lots of morbid jokes. Usually jokes about suicide. If you press me, I will deny it has any relevance. I might not really realize it or I am embarrassed because at that point, I feel like I’m making a big deal about something that is going to go away.” — Emily A.
16. “When songs that automatically make me cry start playing over and over in my head. I tell my brain to stop but it just keeps playing those dangerous songs. That’s a sign a storm of suicidal ideation is brewing.” — Salma A.
17. “ I become anxious, but apathetic. Usually I try to control or hide my anxious, needy side. When I stop caring about my reputation, sanity, security, self-worth and future and just look for anyone to talk to.” — Molly L.
18. “I start going out more, getting drunk and having a good time in the evening and not getting back till about 5 a.m. and then sleeping until 5 p.m. and going out again. I start asking weird questions and start having quite intrusive thoughts and can be quite uncomfortable to be around because my mood swings are so intense and so quick.” — Sophie E.
19. “I tend to lose track of everything. I zone out of reality. Days pass and I feel nothing, like a void. I stop eating, showering and cleaning up after myself. I get pale faced and expressionless.” — Ray W.
20. “When I get bouts of suicidal depression, the first thing I don’t notice is that I stop doing my makeup. Sounds like nothing, but makeup is a huge part of my identity and it slowly decreases importance in my life as I get more depressed/suicidal.” — Emma B.
If you identify with any of these warning signs, please reach out. You deserve to get the help you need.
Visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
Thinkstock photo via Transfuchsian.