Although it is not uncommon for people to be sad occasionally, a person with depression constantly feels sad and hopeless. Sometimes people whose minds are in a perpetual state of depression think about committing suicide. Identifying the signs that someone is suicidal and taking the appropriate actions can help prevent him from ending his life.

The behavior and statements a suicidal person makes can help determine whether he is considering ending his life. The questions below will help you recognize whether someone you know is suicidal:

• Does the person make comments indicating that ending his life would be better for himself or others?
• Does the person take risks that can endanger his life?
• Does the person seem to be disinterested in life or activities he formerly enjoyed?
• Does the person experience mood swings?
• Is the person preparing for death by making a will, purchasing a plot or making other arrangements that will go into effect when he dies?
• Is there significant trauma in the person’s life right now? Is he currently going through a divorce, stressed about a medical condition or experiencing stress from other problems?
• Is there a family history of suicide?

Statistics about suicide indicate that an increasing number of people are taking their own lives. Statistics from the American Foundation of the Prevention of Suicide (AFSP) indicate that there are approximately 12 attempts for every suicide, and “25 to 50 percent” of suicide victims previously tried to commit suicide.

If someone you know is depressed and appears to be contemplating suicide, it is important to reach out. Listen to his plans, do not be judgmental and urge him to seek help. The person may not want to get assistance, so be persistent and encouraging. Sometimes it may be necessary to make a call on the person’s behalf. When seeking help, it is essential to contact a therapist who is experienced with depression and suicide.

I am a licensed counselor based in the Main Line Philadelphia area. With a decade of experience, I have been helping people cope with major depression and become more positive about life. Take action when a person you know appears to suffer from depression and seems suicidal. Studies have shown that talk therapy can help people become more optimistic about life and reduce the likelihood that they will commit suicide.