Not all guys dealing with depression are going to have these thoughts, but it does put them at higher risk for it.
Struggling with thoughts of suicide and impulses to act on them has little to do with the strength of a man’s character or him being selfish, and much more to do with how severe his depression has become.
If you believe that someone is at immediate risk of suicide, call 911 – when someone’s life is at stake, you can’t afford to take a chance. Below are tips to help mitigate the risk of suicide.
Talking about suicide or death
Any reference to suicide or death should be taken very seriously. Whether he says things like “I wish I was dead,” or seems preoccupied with death and wanting to escape from life, there may be reason for concern.
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Expressions of having no hope for the future, feeling trapped, or self-loathing may be indicators of suicidal thinking. A guy might say something like “there’s nothing left for me” or “what’s the point?”.
Putting affairs in order
This could manifest as giving away possessions, saying goodbye to friends and family, or suddenly putting personal and business affairs in order.
Isolation from others
If a guy has isolated himself from others (which is unusual for him), he may be at risk of thinking about suicide.
Seeking out lethal means
If you notice a guy you’re concerned about seeking out access to guns, pills, knives, ropes, or other things that could potentially be used in a suicide attempt, you need to voice your concerns. If a man already has these objects around him, discuss if you can temporarily move them elsewhere while he’s fighting depression.
Starting a conversation
If you suspect that a guy in your life may be thinking about suicide, you need to voice your concerns. This can be a challenging talk to have; one that requires courage. Many people falsely presume that discussing suicide will make things worse – this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are concerned, speak up – it could save someone’s life.
Try to also pay particular attention to the words you use when discussing suicide. Many of the terms we use to describe suicide carry harmful connotations which contribute to the shame and silence surrounding suicide, and may actually make someone feel worse. By reframing the way you talk about suicide, you can help lessen the stigma around it and reaching out for support.
When a person is having suicidal thoughts they are in a tremendous amount of pain. He may turn to alcohol or other substances to numb his pain, but these substances can make depression worse and dangerously lower his ability to fight suicidal thoughts. As much as might be possible, try to limit his access to alcohol or other substances if he is struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Provide ongoing support
After starting a conversation around suicide, it’s important to monitor the situation and take further steps, if necessary. Remember to be proactive – don’t wait until there is a crisis to reach out. Below, we offer some tips to help provide ongoing support to a guy who might be struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Let him know he can count on you
Regularly check-in and invite him to contact you anytime to voice how he is feeling. His recovery may be a long process and you want him to remember you’re there if he ever needs you.
Encourage professional consultation
If he hasn’t already, encourage him to consult a professional. You may want to offer making appointments for him or providing transportation to appointments. If you don’t know which services to suggest, call a health line to learn about options and services in your area.
With his permission, remove potentially dangerous objects (e.g., weapons) from his living area. This may even include medications – talk to him about holding onto them or keeping them someplace out of the way.
Set up a game plan
In case of a crisis, come up with a plan for what he will do – who he can call, which health-lines should be contacted, and where the nearest hospital is. Create a list of contacts that includes friends, family, and professionals for him to contact if he ever needs to. Make sure he is on board with the plan and understands it.