Can You See Me: The Signs That Someone May Be Suicidal?

Around the world, someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of unreported cases is probably significantly higher, as not all suicides are recognized as such. The number of suicide attempts is also significantly higher: For every person who dies by suicide, there are between 10 and 20 people who attempt suicide.

How common are suicidal thoughts?

It isn't easy to estimate. Thoughts about life and death are part of the human being. Most people have had the desire to rest, die, or contemplate suicide at some point in their life without any intention of committing suicide. Concrete ideas about suicide differ from this: they include the wish to die.

If someone expresses the intention to commit suicide, this goes one step further: this can be a warning, and often there is already a specific plan for a suicide attempt. When there are suicidal thoughts, the frequency, duration, and intensity of these can vary greatly from person to person and from time to time. (1)

Risk factor's

Scientific studies confirm important factors related to suicide: if so-called risk factors are present, suicide occurs more frequently, while it is less common with protective factors. Existing risk factors cannot predict the occurrence of a suicide attempt in an individual case. If a person has many risk factors, it does not mean that they will commit suicide, but rather that they are at higher risk than people with fewer risk factors.

Warning signs

People who attempt suicide often show signs of suicide or announce the suicide attempt.

Warning signs of a suicide attempt can include

  • Express death wishes such as "I wish I weren't there anymore."

  • Withdrawing from friends and family

  • Lack of interest in activities that the person would otherwise enjoy.

  • Despair

  • Expression of anger or revenge.

  • New or increasing use of alcohol or other drugs

  • Increased risk behaviors, careless driving, unprotected sex

  • Research about life and death or suicide methods

  • Neglect of personal hygiene

  • Cancel an existing treatment (for example, psychotherapy)

  • Sudden mood swings: Sudden extreme joy or serenity after a long period