Back to Topics TEXT: 988

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)


  • Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.
  • suicide attempt is a non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt might not result in injury.
  • Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about, considering, or planning suicide.

I’m not sure what starts the chemical change in the brain that leads to depression and ultimately escalates to suicide.  A drop in serotonin levels yes, but why? Research shows that 70% of the serotonin needed by the brain is actually produced in the digestive track. So, does this mean that our diets are initially to blame for depression and a continued poor diet increases depression which can lead to suicidal thoughts? Kind of makes you think twice about that cheeseburger and fries.

Not everyone that has depression will try or succeed in suicide. It seems that many families and friends of those that do commit suicide didn’t think that the individual was depressed or that anything was wrong. This makes me think of the commercial about a particular depression medication with the actor holding up a picture of a smiley face in front of their own less than smiley face. This is a real thing. Not that people actually walk around with smiley face signs, but they do plaster a fake smile on their face when interacting with others.

I remember my mother being completely shocked when I finally told her I was so close to killing myself. She was totally clueless. I saw and spoke with her almost daily and gave no hint anything was wrong.  If I had killed myself prior to telling her how I was feeling she would have had the same shock and bewilderment that is so often expressed by those left behind to put a reason to the decision to end one’s life.

“He was always smiling and happy”, “She was so smart and talented”, “He had so much to live for”, “She didn’t act like anything was wrong”.  The incredulous comments from survivors trying to pick up the pieces after a suicide are full of questions. Questions that can’t be answered, but questions that desperately need answers for those that need closure.

Smiling and happy can be easily faked. Smart and talented can be a blessing or a curse. It becomes a curse when an individual feels that he or she can’t live up to the expectations set for themselves or set by others. Having so much to live for is subjective. What seems like “so much” to someone can easily become too much that can’t be managed. Not acting like anything is wrong, again, is an easy fake.

Regardless of any signs or no signs someone is struggling everyone should check in with their friends and loved ones on a regular basis. Just having even one person sincerely invested in your well-being can mean all the difference in the world.

If you recognize any of the following signs of suicide in yourself or others, you should reach out for support:

  • Feeling hopeless, trapped, or like there’s no way out.
  • Having persistent or worsening trouble sleeping or eating.
  • Feeling anxious or agitated.
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live.
  • Feeling rage or anger.
  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking of the consequences.
  • Increasing alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.

The following warning signs require immediate attention:

  • Making a plan for how or when to attempt suicide.
  • Frequently talking, writing, or drawing about death or about items that can cause physical harm.
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities without thinking about the consequences.
  • Behaving violently such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights, or engaging in acts of self-harm.
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
  • Acting as though you have a “death wish”; tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Putting your affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will.
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming yourself.

Getting support can help you see that solutions to your problems exist and that suicide is not the answer.

  • Treatments to cope with suicidal thoughts and behaviors can involve counseling, medication, or a combination of these.
  • Counseling can help you see new solutions and perspectives that may not have occurred to you and give you better ways of coping.
  • Medications affect the chemicals in your brain that may be contributing to your feeling down and thoughts of suicide.

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or wish you were dead, you should talk to someone right away! TEXT: 988

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)