How to Ask Someone if He or She Is Suicidal

"It won't put ideas in their head" (1:36)
Kenneth Robbins, MD, says it is crucial to learn if someone is suicidal, and if so, if he or she has a plan.

In this video, Kenneth Robbins, MD, clinical associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains how you can help someone avoid suicide. Depression tends to come back, especially if its not treated or only partially treated. Sometimes the people who live with a depressed person are better at spotting the signs of a recurrence sooner than the person himself. Increasing isolation is often a clue, as is sadness, expressions of worthlessness or guilt, and sleeping or eating too much or too little. If youve seen this pattern before, you know what youre looking for. This is the time to suggest that the person might want to call the doctor. Self-harm is a real threat. Depression kills, and suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health. More than 90% of people who commit suicide have depression or another mental disorder, with or without a substance abuse problem.

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