Are you suicide aware?

Written by Eileen Hopkins

My road to counselling and psychotherapy has been interesting. Having worked in a caring profession, nursing for over 30 years, I was always at my happiest when interacting with my patients & I have always been a people person.

Are you suicide-aware?

Recognising the subtle signs


It is not always possible to tell if someone is considering suicide, however, there are often subtle signs that can indicate they may be at risk.

Risk is higher if a behaviour is new, out of character or has escalated, or if it seems related to a loss, a traumatic event, severe stress, or abuse of any type.

What you may see:


  • Depression – this is a major risk factor
  • Withdrawing from others/wanting to be left alone
  • Talking about suicide or wanting to die, preoccupation with death
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Giving away clothes, possessions
  • Engaging in reckless behaviour, e.g., reckless driving, abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Loss of interest in things they once enjoyed
  • Calling people to say goodbye


What you may hear the person saying:


  • Feel alone- no purpose in life
  • Talking about how they are a burden – want to escape
  • Feel desperate – numb
  • Feeling hopeless, trapped, or ashamed
  • An important sign to be aware of is when a person suddenly becomes happier, and calmer – this can sometimes be a sign that the person has made the decision to take their life


The behaviours mentioned above are some of the signs that are common among people who are considering suicide, however, there can be many more signs. If someone you know is displaying one or more of these signs or behaving out of character, don’t ignore this. If you have noticed changes in the person, it is vitally important to respond.



Don’t expect that someone else will do this


ASIST (Applied suicide intervention skills training) encourages honest, open, and direct talk about suicide. By asking the person are they considering suicide, you are naming it. The person may deny that they are, however, the fact that you have named it with them, they are more likely to speak with you again.
Therefore, if you suspect that someone is considering suicide, ask him or her the question directly, it is important to name it. Some people fear that by naming it, the person may get ideas, this is not so according to ASIST.


Reach out, you can get professional help.


  • G.P.
  • A/E Dept.
  • H.S.E. mental health services
  • The Samaritans, free phone-116123 (non-judgmental/confidential support)
  • Pieta House -24-hour helpline – 1800 247247
  • Aware depression helpline – 1890 303302 (July,2020)


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