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Schizophrenia and Suicide

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Help for Those at Risk

Your support may be the most important element in the prevention for suicide. All suicide threats or attempts must be taken seriously. You should be especially attentive to anyone who has made a previous suicide attempt, has recently been discharged from a hospital after treatment and particularly to anyone who has a mental illness. If you believe someone is at immediate risk of a suicide attempt, try to convince him or her to see a physician or mental health professional. If necessary, either accompany them to an emergency room, or call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives.

For most people, the path to a suicide attempt takes some time. As a result, friends and family members will often see warning signs before an attempt is made. Some of the behaviors to watch for are:

  • Talking about death or suicide;
  • Talking about specific plans they've made to attempt suicide;
  • Severe depression, hopelessness, or guilt;
  • Reckless, violent, or self-destructive behavior;
  • Alcohol or drug abuse;
  • Expressing a sense of worthlessness;
  • Suddenly appearing much better, or happier, for no apparent reason; and
  • Loss of interest in usual sources of pleasure.

Most suicidal people are focused on the present and are seeking relief from problems that seem insurmountable at the moment. They feel powerless to cope with their problems and can't see any hope in the future.

If you see signs that someone may be considering suicide, you should ask the person how they feel. Ask if they ever think about suicide. If the answer is yes, ask if they've considered it recently and whether they have a plan. If you believe the person is at serious risk of suicide, encourage them to speak with a physician or mental health professional. People in this condition should not be left alone: this is an emergency. Some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of seeking help from strangers. In these cases, it may be helpful if you or another friend offer to accompany the individual to the healthcare center until they become more comfortable with the process. If you need help finding a local mental health facility, call your state or local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).


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