By Lacy Taylor, MA, LPC – Mental Health Therapist at Southwest Behavioral Services
Mood changes in friends or family is a common warning sign of suicidal thoughts. Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are prevalent in people who have thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide. Even if you or someone you know hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental illness they may still be at risk for suicide. There are certain mood-related warning signs, such as depressed mood or sadness, that are more commonly thought of, but there are other mood changes that can also be clues to someone feeling suicidal. In children and adolescents, for example, depressive symptoms are more likely to be exhibited as irritability and anger rather than a sad or depressed mood.
- Worsening sadness or depression, even in people who have not previously had suicidal thoughts, can be a warning sign that they may start to have them.
- Hopeless or helplessness. A person who feels there is no hope of them feeling better or they are beyond help may have thoughts of suicide.
- Irritability or agitation can be a sign that the person is having a hard time tolerating or regulating their emotions. This can lead to impulse behaviors, which is often involved in suicide attempts.
- Indifference to both positive and/or negative things happening in life. The person may believe there is not point to caring anymore.
- Lack of interest in future plans can be a clue that the person does not think they will be around in the future.
- Anxiety or panic attacks can be a warning sign as the person experiencing them wants the uncomfortable sensations and emotions to stop and might believe that suicide is the only way to make the feeing go away, or the only way out of the situation causing the anxiety or panic.
- Dramatic mood swings experienced from day to day or even within one day.
- Rage or extreme anger is often a warning sign displayed by men and adolescents, but not exclusively.
- Recklessness or not thinking or caring about the consequences of an action or danger.
- A sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy. While it is tempting to want to believe that the person is no longer depressed, this kind of mood change can be a warning sing that they have decided to end their life, and feel better about making a final decision.
The bottom line is, mood changes can be a warning sign for suicidal thoughts or actions and paying attention to the mood changes of others could help save a life.
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
Lacy Taylor, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Lacy provides psychotherapy to both adults and adolescents at Southwest Behavioral Services’ outpatient mental health clinic. Lacy is experienced in working with people with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, thought disorders, adjustment issues, and trauma. Her treatment approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, stress management, and art therapy. Lacy uses art therapy to help promote insight, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, and engage the body, mind, and spirit in a way that verbal articulation alone cannot achieve.
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.