CHICAGO (CBS) — Mental health professions are sharing depression and suicide warning signs to look for following the death of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week. They say talking about and recognizing the warning signs of suicide can save lives.
CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos asked experts what we, as friends and family, can do to possibly prevent someone we love from taking their own life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.8 million American adults seriously thought about suicide in 2016.
“I’m one of those people that has to live with this,” said Erika Kendrick, a suicide survivor.
Kendrick says her journey with mental illness has been long. She was a sophomore at Stanford University in the 1990s when she was admitted into a psychiatric ward and placed on suicide watch.
“I tried to drive my car off a cliff off one of the mountains of Stanford’s campus,” she recalled.
She graduated, went to cheer for the Chicago Bulls, and get her master’s degree. Then, she says, she attempted suicide again.
“This is where folks don’t get it,” she said. “When you’re that significantly sick, to ask for help and take that big leap, yes, it can be a game changer, but it’s so incredibly difficult.”
Licensed Social Worker with Elyssa’s Mission, Melissa Molitor, says that’s where others have to step in. Molitor helps teach others how to spot signs of suicide.
“An adult kind of tying up loose ends, figuring out their will, someone isolating themselves, being alone and not doing things they normally like to do [are all signs to look for,]” Molitor stated.
Other signs to look for include your loved one telling people goodbye, neglecting their appearance, getting a gun or pills, giving things away, or quitting school or a job.
Molitor says there are certain phrases people who are suffering from mental health issues may say, including, “My family would be better off without me, “ you don’t have to worry about me much longer,” and “my career is over.”
She says if someone you know shows any of these signs, ask them directly: “Are you thinking about suicide? Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
For Erika Kendrick, her mom stepped in.
“Without them, we’re all alone in this. If it’s just us left to our own devices, that can get dangerous,” Kendrick said.
Experts say while it can be a scary thing to ask questions and say the word “suicide” to a loved one, it’s something they say we must do if we see the signs in order to potentially save their life.
If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, there are ways to help.
Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The hotline is free and open 24 hours a day and is confidential.