Suicide Prevention : The Warning Signs

Ailish TMS Dublin

Worldwide, with over 800,000 people dying of suicide each year, and the number of non-fatal suicide attempts is estimated to be approximately twenty-times higher (World Health Organisation) Understanding the warning signs is vital in suicide prevention. Ailish, our Dublin based practitioner, has a special interest in suicide prevention and is passionate about helping her patients to see the good things in life.

In the UK and Ireland, 6,213 people took their own lives in 2018 alone (Suicide – National Suicide Research Foundation). Despite years of research and investment of resources into medications and interventions for the prevention of suicide, it remains a major public health concern.

Who is most at risk of suicide?

Suicide can affect individuals regardless of age, religion, ethnicity, background or gender. However, more at-risk groups include;

  • Middle-aged and older men
  • Health professionals and social workers
  • Veterans
  • Emergency service workers
  • People with addiction issues
  • Homeless people
  • Individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide
  • Members of the LGBT community
  • Individuals who engage in self-harm
  • Members of the travelling community
  • People with physical illnesses
  • Individuals with on-going mental health problems.

What are the suicide warning signs?

It is difficult in some cases to tell if a person is thinking about suicide.

Some people may present as happy and engaged. In other cases, a person may show warning signs or “invitations” for someone to intervene. Some of these “invitations” may include;

Actions (they may behave like this)
  • Giving away their belongings
  • Withdrawing from family, school or work
  • Using drugs or drinking more than usual
  • Impulsive/reckless behaviour
  • Self-harm
  • Unusual changes in behaviour
  • “Just can’t take it anymore”
  • “I am a burden to everyone”
  • “I can’t think straight anymore”
  • “All my problems with end soon”
  • Not looking after themselves like they usually would
  • Change in sexual desire
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Change/loss of appetite or weight loss
Emotional (they may feel)
  • Desperate
  • Lonely/Sad
  • Worthless
  • Hopeless/Helpless

What to do if you suspect someone is suicidal?

If you suspect that  someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation, it is important to follow your instinct and engage with them about it.

The topic of suicide can be difficult to talk about. But, if you’re respectful, patient and compassionate, they’re likely to either say that they’ve not been feeling suicidal or appreciate that someone has spoken with them about it.

Therefore, when approaching the topic of suicide, it is important to try to remain calm but direct and confident. Tell the person why you are worried and ask a direct question, like;

“I have noticed that you are drinking a lot more than usual/using a lot of drugs which concerns me. I am wondering, are you having suicidal thoughts?”

“You mentioned earlier that you feel like you are a burden to everyone and feel hopeless/ helpless – this worries me. I am wondering are you thinking of harming yourself?”

“You said that you have been feeling worthless and lonely lately and have not slept well/been taking care of yourself. Are you experiencing suicidal ideation?”

If you are not comfortable with having the conversation yourself, reach out to someone who is. Consult a medical professional or counsellor – the most important thing is that it is addressed as soon as possible.

Smart TMS

Here at Smart TMS, the safety of our patients is at the forefront of everything we do. For this reason, we’ll always ask how you’re feeling and ask that you fill in our pre-assessment questionnaires. By doing this, your clinician will know how you feel and decide how best we help you. Each person you speak to, be it your patient advisor, your clinician or your practitioner, will listen if you’re feeling particularly low. Although we can’t take the pain away, sometimes speaking to someone about how you feel can help. Many patients visiting us for TMS treatment have had suicidal thoughts to some degree and TMS has the ability to reduce the intense feelings in up to 75% of patients treated for depression.

As we aren’t an emergency service, we’ll always direct you to your nearest crisis team if you feel like you cannot carry on. If you would like to talk to someone but don’t feel that you’re going to act on your feelings, we recommend speaking to the Samaritans by calling 116 123. If you’re in an emergency, dial 999 immediately or go to your local A&E.

Please remember, you are not alone and help is out there. If you think TMS could help you, please contact the team to learn more.


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