Nonverbal Signs of Suicidal Depression: An Insight

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Nonverbal Signs of Suicidal Depression

The majority of people who commit suicide suffer from major depression. It is found across all age ranges and is the fifth leading cause of death of children under the age of 15 and the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 according to the American Foundation for Suicide.

Nonverbal Warning Signs of Suicidal Depression

  • Alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Reckless behaviors or purposefully putting oneself in dangerous situations such as driving recklessly, sexual promiscuity, playing Russian Roulette, hanging out of car windows while the car is in motion, and rock climbing without being secured properly
  • Lack of interest in hobbies, friends or activities
  • Running away
  • Missing school
  • Frequent crying
  • Isolation or extreme withdrawal: The person won’t come out of their bedroom, will avoid friends, and disappear into solitary activities such as books, the Internet, and video games
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion which can be seen by such behaviors as slow movement and speech, or difficulty concentrating or expressing thoughts
  • Extreme sensitivity to real or perceived rejection or failure
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Decline in grades at school
  • Anger and aggressive behaviors: Those who act out their depression through anger may be even more likely to contemplate suicide
  • Dropping hints: Leaving web browsers opened to searches on suicide or topics of death and dying; buying books or other media on these topics, and writing poems about death or suicide
  • Excessively clingy

Signs a Suicide Attempt May Be Imminent

  • Getting affairs in order including possibly making a will, paying off debts, making amends
  • Suddenly visiting friends and family in essence to say goodbye
  • Buying the means to commit suicide such as purchasing a firearm, a rope or hose, or large quantities of medicine at once or over a short time frame
  • Sudden and unexpected improvement in their mood such as becoming suddenly outgoing when previously they were shy
  • Sudden decline in their mood such as not leaving the house at all, not bathing, or eating or taking care of any of their basic needs
  • Increased anxiety or severe agitation becomes even more apparent
  • Giving away prized possessions or belongings such to a sibling, relative, or close friend
  • Engaging in self-injurious behaviors such as cutting and burning.

If you are concerned that someone may be suicidal, do not leave them alone. You can ask direct questions about their intent to kill themselves. Contrary to popular belief, this will not “put the idea in their head”. Also, remove any means of suicide from their possession and call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room or to their doctor.

If you are a child or teenager who suspects your friend is suicidal, get the help of a trusted adult immediately. For example, you can tell your school counselor, your own parent, or your friend’s parent. If you feel you have not been taken seriously, keep telling more adults in your life until someone does take you seriously.

Other resources include

The National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk (8255)

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-Suicide (784-2433)


Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, March 26, 2010.

Teen Suicide and Warning Signs by Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD and J. W. Marks MD,

American Foundation for Suicide: Fact and Figures

Psychology Today; Depressive Disorders (Children and Adolescents)