The seriousness of suicidal ideation and increased risk is real when it comes to those battling addiction. When they have additional mental health conditions, the risk only increases. Fortunately, although there is no standard for warning signs, there are some things that you can keep an eye out for. Depending on the severity of the risk, the signs will have varying degrees of severity.
The 3 Signs
The best way to explore the signs is to divide them into three sections: early warning, rising risk, and imminent risk.
Early Warning Signs
- Withdrawal from family, friends, work, or school
- Anxiety and sleep problems
- Agitation and irritability
- Anger, pessimism, and mood changes
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Talking about feeling trapped or losing control
Signs of Rising Risk
A better understanding of the terms and the issue of suicide itself is going to make it easier to talk to your family member that is struggling. It will also allow you to be more informed and help others, as well as to identify potential warning signs and triggers that may need to be avoided.
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- Indifference to enjoyed hobbies or activities
- Not talking about the future
- Escalating risky or impulsive behavior
- Giving away valuables or pets
Serious Imminent Warning Signs
- Actual threats of self-harm or attempting to end one’s life
- Having a specific suicide plan
- Searching for or obtaining the means to end their life
- Extreme withdrawal
- Sudden expressions of love and gratitude (Often saying their “goodbyes”
Remember, you may see none of these signs. You may only see one or two. Or, someone may just attempt to take their life and that is what has brought you here to prepare for future risks. Regardless, these can at least guide you to be more mindful and help you know where to look when trying to keep an eye on your loved ones.
Let them know you are there
The best thing that you can do is to let people know you’re there and that you can help them. Take their suicide plan or ideations and instead have them work with you to create a safety plan. Take away access to dangerous objects or items that could assist them in taking their own life or causing serious self-injury.
Seeking professional help
Most importantly, encourage your family member to seek professional help from a mental health professional, along with an addiction recovery center. Help them understand that helping themselves is the best course of action, and make sure that you get as much of the family involved as possible (if they want the help) so that there is a built-in network of support that can give them peace of mind.
Dealing with addiction is difficult enough, but when there are other issues present, it can become an even bigger challenge. By knowing what to look for, you’ll be better able to help your loved one.