Every year, approximately 1 million people commit suicide, according to The World Health Organization. Suicide causes immeasurable pain for the victim���s surviving family and friends, leaving unanswered questions and immense grief in its wake. Many suicides are not actually driven by someone���s desire to die. Rather, suicide stems from someone���s desire to stop pain — whether physical or psychological. If someone you love demonstrates any suicidal thoughts or behaviors, take these signs seriously, listen to your loved one thoroughly and seek professional help.

Some suicides occur without any warning, but most suicidal people exhibit warning signs. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that signals include the following: unrelenting low mood, pessimism, hopelessness, desperation, anxiety, withdrawal, sleep problems, increased alcohol or drug use, recent impulsiveness and unnecessary risks, threatening suicide, giving away prized possessions, purchase of a poison or firearm and unexpected rage. When someone you love talks about suicide or demonstrates self-loathing, you should take these signs seriously.

Ninety percent of all suicides take place during or following a depressive episode, reports The Journal of the American Medical Association. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) list four things to do when you know that someone you care for is suicidal:

  • start a non-judgmental, non-confrontational honest conversation
  • do not keep a suicide plan secret
  • do not minimize the person���s problems
  • contact a mental health professional on your loved one���s behalf.

There is a large social stigma attached to mental illness. Therefore, when someone suffers from depression, he or she might not contact a friend, family member or medical professional for help.

If you can tell that this person is in serious and near danger, contact 911 or the National Lifelife at 1-800-273-TALK. During your conversation, do not pledge confidence. It is something that you won���t be able to honor. You will have to go against your word because you cannot keep suicidal plans secret. You need to contact the appropriate people close to him or her and a medical professional. Although it may be tempting to minimize their problems, you should not do this. You also shouldn���t emphasize their problems. Take their problems seriously and listen to what they say. Try to understand their perspective on perceived troubles to better sympathize with them. Assure them that depression can be treated and that there are plenty of resources and people willing to help.

There are many organizations determined to prevent suicide. The following organizations offer important information about suicide and proper measures to prevent it:

Remember that there is no substitute for discussing issues of great importance such as suicide with a mental health professional. This information, though important, is no substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.