Suicide is devastating to the victim's family and friends because they're left with doubts about whether there was anything they could have done to help before it was too late. Experts say there can be warning signs that someone has reached that point of desperation.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the best you can do if you think someone is considering suicide is to confront them. Talk to them, gently, letting them know that you care about them and what happens to them. Ask them about what's going on in their life that has them so depressed. And don't be afraid to be direct. Ask them if they're considering suicide. And if they say yes, don't leave them alone. There are many resources available, including the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112, and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Another great resource is 211 Maine, where you can get listings of suicide helplines, counseling services, and survivor support groups. If you feel they are in need of more immediate help, get them to a hospital. Here are a few warning signs that it may be time to have this conversation with someone you care about.

  • Catherine Yeulet, ThinkStock
    Catherine Yeulet, ThinkStock

    They're Talking About Suicide

    This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes people will mention killing themselves in an off-hand sort of way. Or as part of a threat in a heated argument. Even so, take it seriously. Especially if that person is also displaying any of the other signs listed here. If they're talking about it, chances are they may have considered it.

  • Wavebreakmedia Ltd, ThinkStock
    Wavebreakmedia Ltd, ThinkStock

    Increased Substance Use

    If someone you know is suddenly drinking more or using drugs more often, there's a good chance that they're trying to escape. Self-medicating is common for anyone who's dealing with feelings of depression. Confront them about their substance use, in a caring way, and ask them what's going on. Ignoring the problem will only escalate the feelings of desolation.

  • prudkov, ThinkStock
    prudkov, ThinkStock

    Withdrawing From Friends

    Someone who is severely depressed will withdraw from family and friends. Sometimes it's out of fear that others will question them about their moods. Or it can also be because they feel that their depression will bring others down, so they become a burden. Whatever the reason, a suicidal person will isolate themselves and need someone to push through their emotional walls and get them talking.

  • OcusFocus, ThinkStock
    OcusFocus, ThinkStock

    Changes In Sleep Patterns

    Someone who is suddenly having trouble sleeping or is sleeping too much may be showing signs of depression. If they're overwhelmed with worry or negative thoughts, it can make relaxing enough to sleep impossible. Conversely, sleeping too much could be a sign of avoidance. It's easier to sleep and shut out the world than it is to deal with it. Again, push through the emotional walls and encourage them to open up.

  • KatarzynaBialasiewicz, ThinkStock
    KatarzynaBialasiewicz, ThinkStock

    Extreme Mood Swings

    Someone who's contemplating suicide is feeling out of control, hopeless, trapped. So lashing out is not at all unusual. Their emotions are also out of control, so they may experience extreme mood swings, crying one moment and then suddenly yelling and throwing things around. Happy and laughing before suddenly withdrawing into tearful silence. These kinds of mood swings are indicative of a bigger problem and need to be acknowledged. Talk to them about what's going on and get help for them before it's too late.

    Find more information about warning signs and resources available on the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you think someone you know may be thinking about suicide, don't hesitate. Do it today before it's too late.

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