Suicide, Trauma, and How to Help
Suicidal thoughts come from mental illness and lack of social support. They can also come from falling short of your own or other people’s expectations. You can’t paint a picture of what someone at risk of suicide looks like, because there are so many different cases.
But there are things you can do, and behaviors you can observe. At the end of this document, I attached some helpful resources.
It Can Be Anyone
Trauma can come in many shapes and sizes. It’s also very common. 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women experience at least one trauma in their lives. You don’t need to go through traumatic events to consider suicide. However, trauma can and does increase suicide risk.
Below is a list of the types of trauma that can increase suicide risk, as well as the types of abuse that can lead to trauma. If you’d like to know more, the websites I sourced these definitions from are at the bottom of the article.
Someone insults and humiliates a person over and over.
Someone (mother, father, partner) ignores and doesn't care enough about a person’s need for love.
Someone causes a person physical pain, injury, or suffering.
Not taking care of a person to the point that their bodily health is in danger (Not feeding you or not taking care of your health).
Unwanted sexual activity or sexual activity with a person who cannot give consent.
A person is extremely stressed because of an unwanted sexual experience.
Person did not/could not give consent
Examples: making a person view porn, touching them when they did not want to be touched.
When a child experiences something that causes them pain or distress, often leading to lasting mental and physical effects.
What Suicidal Behavior Can Look Like
Talking about suicide or suicidal behavior are cries for help. Take them seriously. An obsession with death, talking about self-harm or suicide, or seeking out a means of suicide like a weapon or drugs are huge red flags.
Hopelessness is another red flag. According to HelpGuide.org, someone going through hopelessness might talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.
Look out for someone suddenly becoming depressed or active. Major shifts in personality can come with a person’s decision to kill themselves. Other suicidal behaviors include getting their affairs in order, sudden calm, or calling/visiting people more frequently than usual.
HelpGuide.com has written a framework for how to talk about suicide. Take the person seriously. Make sure to listen, so you can understand the situation and guide the conversation. Be yourself, and everything will be alright.
Please don’t argue, blame yourself, blame them, or lecture them.
What it looks like, and how you can help:
How common is trauma?
Expert in Bullying Prevention:
Risk Factors and Warning Signs
Suicide Prevention for Teens