What does someone who is thinking of ending his/her life look like?
They look like just anyone – often completely ‘normal’.
Saagar went to the gym the night before Day 0. After I drove him back home he baked some chicken nuggets that we had got from M&S and had them quite quickly. I pointed out to him,”Saagar, that’s just plastic food darling.” He looked me in the eye and with a faint smile said, ”I know.” I thought that was a bit strange but then he had not been himself for a few days and I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. So I let it go.
That was a clue and I missed it. That was the last face to face conversation we had. It was so subtle. I knew nothing. I suspected nothing. I was ‘suicide naïve’.
A few years ago one mother took her daughter to the psychiatrist and told him that the young lady was thinking of jumping in front of a car. The psychiatrist said, “Girls don’t do things like that.” A week later she completed suicide. He missed it. He must have known everything about suicide.
The intention is sometimes clearly conveyed in words:
“I wish I were dead”
“I am tired of life and can’t go on like this”
“If such and such doesn’t happen I’ll kill myself”
“I am going to end it all.”
In other cases, it may be implied:
“You won’t have to worry about me for much longer”
“No one will miss me”
“I just want out”
“The world would be better off without me.”
The clues may lie in the body language and behavior. For example: putting personal affairs in order, giving away prized possessions, previous suicide attempts, acquiring means such as firearms or pills, utter hopelessness, sudden interest or disinterest in religion, unexplained anger, aggression and irritability.
A change in life situation can be a turning point for some. For example, being dismissed from work or expelled from school, loss of any major relationship, diagnosis of a serious terminal illness, anticipated loss of financial security, loss of a valued therapist, counselor or teacher.
Any of us could experience these feelings and any of us could be looking at someone having these feelings. We will only see what we look for.