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Depression Health Center

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Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide

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What Should I Do if Someone I Know Shows Warning Signs of Suicide?

First, if someone you know appears to be depressed and is contemplating suicide, take that person seriously. Listen to what he or she is saying. Take the initiative to ask that person what he or she is planning. But don't attempt to argue him or her out of committing suicide. Rather, let the person know that you care and understand and are listening. Avoid statements like: "You have so much to live for."

If someone you know appears to be depressed and talks about suicide, makes a suicidal gesture, or attempts suicide, take it as a serious emergency. Listen to the person, but don't try to argue with him or her. Seek immediate help from a health care professional.

Depressed people are often suicidal. It is a key symptom of the disease. Some studies show that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a central role in the neurobiology of suicide. Researchers have found lower levels of serotonin in the brainstem and cerebrospinal fluid of suicidal individuals.

In addition, suicidal behavior sometimes runs in families. Remember, any talk of suicide is always an emergency. Have the person talk with a health care professional immediately.

Where Can I Get Help for Suicide and Depression?

Encourage a suicidal or depressed person to seek the help of a mental health professional. Because the person may feel so hopeless that they may not think it's possible to be helped, you'll probably have to be persistent and go with that person.

If your loved one appears to be in imminent danger of committing suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Remove any weapons or drugs he or she could use. Accompany him or her to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

During treatment, be supportive. Help the person remember to take antidepressants or other prescribed medications and to continue any other therapy that's been prescribed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on August 31, 2014
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