Know the Signs – BEHAVIOR


hebgen_thumbBy Noelle Hebgen, BSN, RN, Director of Inpatient Behavioral Health at Southwest Behavioral Services

“Suicide is not chosen…it happens when the pain exceeds the resources for coping with the pain.” –Unknown

Most people who are considering suicide will have warning signs and experience behavioral changes in the time leading up to the suicide attempt. It is important to recognize the signs and changes in behavior of the person in crisis to get them help and maybe save their life.

Common behavioral clues suicidal individuals may experience include:

  • Any previous suicide attempt
  • Co-occurring depression, moodiness, and/or hopelessness
  • Unexplained anger, aggression, and/or irritability
  • Drug or alcohol abuse, or relapsing after a period of sobriety
  • Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Putting personal affairs in orders; for example, making changes to a will or insurance policy, changing beneficiaries, making funeral plans
  • Saying goodbye and giving away prized possessions and/or money
  • A sudden interest or disinterest in church or religion
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from others

Behavior SignIn addition, there are 5 behavioral signs that warn that the individual is in need of urgent intervention. The signs include:

  • Severe anxiety and turmoil; crawling out of their skin; they appear to be suffering from unbearable mental pain and suffering
  • Ruminating about the same thought over and over; an irrational fear that cannot be calmed down; the same worry or focus that cannot be redirected
  • Inability to sleep or stay asleep; the acute onset and persistent inability to sleep; statements such as “I just want to go to sleep and never wake up”
  • Delusional thoughts of hopelessness, doom, and gloom; an unrealistic thought that something terrible is going to happen
  • Alcohol abuse, recent intoxication, or over drinking that is uncharacteristic for the individual

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a professional, including the resources below:

  • Grant and Iowa County 24-hour crisis line (via Unified Community Services): 1-800-362-5717
  • Lafayette County 24-hour crisis line (via Northwest Connections): 1-888-552-6642
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to your local Emergency Room or call 911

Southwest Behavioral Services (SBS) is the mental health service line at Southwest Health.  SBS has been part of Southwest Health since 1998 and has grown and developed around the community’s needs.  Included in our services are: Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry serving ages 55 and older, Outpatient psychiatric care for ages 6 and up including medication management and psychotherapy, as well as a Memory Diagnostic Clinic.    If you have questions about our service line or want to schedule an appointment do not hesitate to call us at 608-348-3656.

Leave a Comment