Death by suicide is not something that we discuss over the dinner table. It is generally a taboo topic because we feel uncomfortable with the fact that some people choose to end their lives. Most people have strong opinions about death by suicide. Some religions even believe that death by suicide has permanent consequences for our life beyond this world. 

How Do We Miss the Signs?

With so much fear of discussing the issues surrounding suicide, it is no wonder that we miss the signs that someone close to us is considering suicide as an option. However, it is crucial to understand more about why people choose to take their own lives so that we can help them get the help they need. 

Hopeless Situations 

Most often, people consider suicide because they are in a hopeless situation emotionally or physically and they cannot see another way out. In many cases, with the proper counseling or medication or both, they could have the hope they so desperately need and find their way back to a full life. 

If you don’t see the signs that someone is struggling, you miss the chance to help them live.

Everyday Stress

In our everyday hectic world with everything going on during the pandemic, there are many who are struggling emotionally. We all face times of struggle where we feel worried or anxious and sometimes even slightly depressed. This is normal and doesn’t mean someone is suicidal. 

For everyday kinds of stress, you can let others know that you don’t see them as a failure. You can point them to financial advisors and state resources to help with the financial struggles or to a Counselor who can help them reprogram the voices in their head to be more positive. Many health insurance companies are covering counseling due to the pandemic 

Scary Levels of Stress

Some people feel hopelessness on a level that is beyond what is normal or acceptable. These are some of the struggles that can cause a loss of hope for life.

  • Health failure causing chronic pain
  • Taking a medication with a black box warning for suicidal ideations
  • Taking a new medication for depression or anxiety 
  • Changes in sleep patterns causing burnout and exhaustion
  • Drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs to get high or stay in a fog
  • Death of a loved one, especially a close friend or family member
  • Divorce or loss of custody of kids, even for only parts of the week
  • Serious Financial Struggles

These are not all signs that someone is suicidally depressed, but they can be signs that someone desperately needs help. A person in one of these situations is at risk for the type of emotional exhaustion or chemical disorder that can cause feelings of hopelessness. Check out this test to determine stress levels by Dartmouth University.

If your loved one scores high in stress levels, make sure they receive counseling and can talk through the issues and move forward in their life. Talking may not be enough so watch out for signs of suicidal ideations.


If someone is struggling with a situation of acute or chronic stress, talk with them. Find out how they see their situation. Are they engaging in these behaviors listed below from Save.org? These behaviors are thoroughly researched and known to be factors of a life before suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If someone is talking about life using terms that show a lack of care about life, they are at risk. If they don’t have anything to be hopeful about, they are at risk. 

People need to feel like their life has meaning and there is a purpose. If they are struggling with depression and/or anxiety, they need a counselor or psychiatrist or minister to help them find the way back to hope.

Watch Out for THIS Pattern

If someone has been struggling with the above suicidality type issues and you know that they were in a very bad place, but all of a sudden they seem happy and cheerful and agreeable for a week or so, this is NOT a good sign. 

Often those who have decided on a suicide plan are happier and more excited about life for a few weeks before they die. They will go places with you or give you nice gifts. They may get in touch with all of their loved ones to make sure everyone knows they are loved. It is like they are saying goodbye to everyone without actually saying goodbye. 

If you feel like your loved one is randomly happy again for no good reason, look into why they are suddenly doing “better”. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or get them into counseling immediately.

If Someone Says THIS, it’s an Emergency

Someone who says “I want to die” or “I want to end my life” is not joking. There is a chance they won’t go through with it, but there is also a chance that they will!!  

A Mom of 4 who lives here in Raleigh lost her husband in 2016 to suicide. He only said once that he wanted to die. He had lost his mother the month before (a stressor) and he spoke of wanting to die on a Wednesday evening.

She thought that she had time to wait and was planning to take him to the doctor the next week. They were already in counseling together for their marriage and she thought that he was getting enough help. She also thought that a nice weekend together would help. He ended his life on Friday evening. 

She wants others to know that you can’t wait to see if a person gets better. You may lose them before you get a chance to help them. Acting now is the best way to keep the person safe.

Don’t Overthink This

Don’t live in denial with someone who threatens or talks lightly about ending their life. This is not a time to sit and think about what to do. This is the time to ACT on their cry for help. This is a full blown life and death emergency. 

Do Not Wait

Do not wait. Tell this person how much they mean to you and help them find professional help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 if you don’t know what to do. Call a medical professional or take them to Urgent Care. Talk to a Psychiatrist about what your next steps should be or go to a hospital.

Keep asking and looking for answers until your loved one finds relief from suicidal ideations. Otherwise, you could lose them. Do whatever it takes to find them the help they need.

As funeral home care providers, we here at Renaissance see too often the effects a suicide has on family and loved ones. Often there is a sense of shame and guilt over what has happened and family and friends are left wondering how did they not know that their loved one was planning to commit suicide. We want you to know that we are here and willing to help you find the resources you need if a loved one is suicidal or if you are facing the death of a loved one.