The signs above seem difficult to recognize and even more strange to talk about with loved ones. No one wants to be the person with that concerned, after-school-special look on their face asking their friends and family about their mental health. However, it's long past time to lift the veil of shame around discussing suicide.
Feeling deeply suicidal is one of the single most isolating feelings on Earth. Consider how people who have attempted it are treated. People call the person a coward, afraid to deal with their problems, and say they are taking the easy way out; as if they needed extra judgement to go along with their deep feelings of hopelessness. Suicide attempts are treated with such deep shame that any self-respecting suicidal adult would be completely loathe to mention the deep sense of desperation and hopelessness that accompanies the desire to make these days or months their final ones.
Our society views suicidal people as weak, mentally fragile and betraying the natural order. There is a pervasive attitude that suicidal thoughts and behavior are a moral failing, much like all mental illness. Perhaps if we were ready to have a more resourceful conversation, one aimed to humbly help rather than shame, we would succeed in reducing this widespread problem. Yet people are still reticent to admit that a conversation about suicide is possible without dramatic interventions, shame and hysterics.
It's more likely that your loved one will die of suicide than on the freeway. Let's work together to start clearing the way for a more resourceful conversation about our mental health.
Elizabeth Stone writes at Why Men Leave.