Recognizing the warning signs can save lives

There is renewed interest in depression and mental health following the death of Naomi Judd.

“I myself am a survivor of loss. So I lost two family members to suicide and I can tell you the message is really important right now,” said Hegira Health Clinical Director Melissa Tolstyka.

Hegira Health serves 20,000 customers every year.

“If a person is thinking about suicide, they’ll let you know, they’ll tell you if you ask that question,” Tolstyka said.

Tolstyka said recognizing the warning signs can save lives. Verbal cues can be direct or indirect, such as someone saying, “I don’t want to be here.

Behavioral signs may include withdrawal, isolation, and loss of interest in hobbies. Examples of situations might be someone getting fired from their job or expelled from school.

“I’ve seen this a lot more often, that people want to talk about these things that we didn’t want to talk about before,” Kelly Mays said.

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Kelly Mays is a licensed child therapist. She said she was seeing a worrying increase in depression and anxiety, especially among young people.

She said if you’re worried about a loved one, there’s a three-step method to try:

  • Question: Don’t be afraid to ask.

  • To persuade: Suggest to call together.

  • Refer: Know the referral sources in your community.

“Most people who want to die or think about death or think about suicide, they don’t want to die. They don’t want to live. They’re just in pain and they want that pain to go away,” Mays said.


If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance at 800-273-8255. Click here to find crisis lines near you.


Recognize the warning signs

Some common warning signs can help you determine if someone you love is at risk of suicide. A person may be at risk if they are:

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  • Talk about wanting to die or committing suicide

  • Looking for a way to commit suicide, such as searching online or buying a gun

  • Talk about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Talking about feeling trapped or having unbearable pain

  • Talk about being a burden to others

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious or restless; behave recklessly

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Withdraw or isolate

  • Showing rage or talking about wanting revenge

  • Extreme mood swings

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