Skip to main content

For many people, the holidays are the worst time of the year. Witnessing merry carolers, decorations, and lovers skating on icy ponds fuels dark emotions of loneliness and a meaningless life for those already depressed. In this state of mind, the suicidal person forgets that things can improve with time. They just want out of the pain.

Over 1.2 million people commit suicide every year, and 800,000 succeed.

If you know someone who feels completely hopeless, don’t assume they’ll pull through it on their own. There are warning signs before someone takes their life. Here are some of them and what you can do to help the person change their mind.

Warning Sign #1 – Disengaged. People who are severely depressed don’t have the energy or the will to participate in life. They suddenly start canceling appointments and refuse to get involved. They’ve lost any zest for life and even stopped eating or engaging in activities they’ve previously enjoyed. This detachment from life makes the depression worse.

Warning Sign #2 – Sudden Uplift in Mood. The person has been depressed and now suddenly seems animated. The suicidal person feels better because they feel they have a solution. They’ve decided to end their life. There’s a sense of relief that they won’t be suffering any longer.

Warning Sign #3 – Subtle Comments. The suicidal person has convinced themself that no one really cares whether they’re here or not, or part of them wants to be stopped. They test this theory by making subtle comments or kiddingly saying, “You’ll be sorry, you said that to me,” “That’s the perfect time for you to go out of town,” or something like, “I saw Mr. Jones today and had my will prepared,” or “I’m tired of this watch, I’d like you to have it.” They might even hand a suicide note to someone and ask them to open it the following day.

If someone is struggling, there are things you can do to determine if the person is suicidal and intervene.

Intervention #1 – Tell the person you’re concerned and care about them. How painful it would be to lose them. Insist that they do some things with you. Insist they see a therapist and help them make an appointment. Talk to family members about your concerns. If they have a weapon in the house, have them give it to someone for safekeeping.

Intervention #2 – Ask the person if they are having suicidal thoughts. If they say no, get them to agree to contact you if they ever feel suicidal. If they say yes, ask more questions. “Do you have a plan?” “How would you do it?” “When are you planning to do this.” If the answers are clear and affirmative, the person is at high risk for a suicide attempt. If the person refuses immediate mental health treatment, let them know you can’t just stand by.

Intervention #3 – Notify their family or call 911. Report the facts. Even though it’s painful to see someone involuntarily committed, it’s far better than never seeing them again.

One person who attempted suicide recently wrote, “I was a depressed teenager. I was put on medication that made my depression worse. I decided to end my life. When I woke up in the hospital, my mom asked me the perfect question. Did I want to die or change the way I was living? I chose to change my life.”

No one wants to lose someone to suicide. If you have any concerns, don’t brush them aside. Take action, so your loved one doesn’t become a statistic with the other 800,000 people who have ended their lives. Showing you care can save a life.


Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

Sign up for the mailing list

You will receive the latest articles, meditation tracks, inspirational content and much more

    Leave a Reply