6 Signs that Someone Is Thinking About Suicide

When a person is thinking about suicide, there are usually some telltale signs. Their attitude towards life, sudden behavioral changes, and verbal expressions sometimes go unnoticed.
6 Signs that Someone Is Thinking About Suicide

Last update: 27 November, 2020

It usually isn’t easy to tell when someone is seriously thinking about suicide. Nor is it easy to determine if, whether they talk about it or not, they’re actually willing to take their own life. If you’re not sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution and heed any sign or signal that you notice.

When someone commits suicide, those close to them often say that they didn’t see it coming. They’re probably being honest. Although the signs that someone is thinking about suicide are usually there, sometimes, we aren’t willing to see them. It isn’t something people do intentionally. Rather, you lack the psychological tools to identify and respond to this kind of situation. It’s also frightening to think about someone you know committing suicide or having suicidal thoughts, and fear often leads to denial.

It’s important to clarify that it’s impossible to make sweeping generalizations about human behavior. Some people commit suicide even though they’re in therapy and seem to be doing fine. Others check all the boxes. Therefore, we’re aware that this isn’t an exhaustive list of signs. However, they’re some of the most common among people who are thinking about suicide.

“Suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of the social groups to which the individual belongs.”

-Emile Durkheim-

1. Sadness

Certain moments and situations in life make people more prone to suicide. In general, people who have experienced physical, psychological, or sexual abuse are more likely to be suicidal. This is especially true if the abuse happened during childhood or in an especially vulnerable stage of life.

If an individual has already attempted suicide or suffered from depression or other disorders, their risk is greater. The same is true for victims of domestic violence, who have to live with the trauma and pain of abuse.

2. Despair is a sign that a person is thinking about suicide

Despair is a psychological state in which an individual doesn’t project themselves into the future. They don’t expect anything good to happen, don’t make plans, and don’t have any expectations about their own life. Despair is common after experiencing failure or loss.

In these cases, affectivity tends to swing between depression and flatness. They won’t seem very sad. In fact, they won’t express any intense emotions.

3. Sudden apparent well-being

When an individual has been sad and depressed for a long time, it might not be a good sign that they suddenly seem animated and happy for no particular reason. The reason for their good mood isn’t that they’re cured, it’s that suicide seems like a solution to all their problems.

Contemplating suicide has a calming effect because they suddenly have a “way out”. Thus, if you notice that someone you love is unexplainably happy after a long period of depression, it might be a sign that they’re thinking about suicide.

4. Talking about death often

When someone’s thinking about suicide, they often give hints in their everyday speech. They might say things such as “I’d be better off dead” or “What’s the point of living?”

These kinds of comments often go unnoticed but can be a sign that the individual is thinking about dying and is looking for some kind of validation from those around them.

5. Getting rid of belongings and tying up loose ends

When someone is thinking about suicide, they often start to get rid of their belongings. They might give away their favorite clothes or objects that are special to them. You might notice an abnormal detachment. It’s like they’re beginning to disappear or say goodbye by giving away the objects that make up their world.

When many people make the decision to commit suicide, they start tying up loose ends. They might close bank accounts, organize their finances, or delete files from their computer. These are all signs of the end of a cycle. But in this case, the cycle is their life.

A guy standing in front of the ocean thinking about suicide.

6. Progressive isolation

Suicide is more common in people who have been dealing with significant problems for a long time that they can’t seem to resolve. The idea of taking your own life doesn’t just come up automatically. It takes time to brew and develop and usually starts to seem like an option after loss, failure, or changes that cause fear and sadness.

If a person is thinking about suicide, they usually go through a phase where they talk about their problem with everyone. After that, however, they’ll start to pull away and isolate themselvesWhen they’re around people, they don’t seem to connect with anyone. Their contact is superficial and they get more and more distant all the time.

As we mentioned from the beginning, not all suicidal people behave the same way. The factors we’ve mentioned in this article are some of the most common. However, in most cases, the biggest sign is when a person is continuously suffering and can’t shake their pain and non-conformity. If you think that someone you know is suicidal, seek professional help.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Pérez-Olmos, I., Ibáñez-Pinilla, M., Reyes-Figueroa, J. C., Atuesta-Fajardo, J. Y., & Suárez-Díaz, M. J. (2008). Factores asociados al intento suicida e ideación suicida persistente en un centro de atención primaria. Bogotá, 2004-2006. Revista de Salud Pública, 10, 374-385.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.