Suicide prevention: Emory mental health expert offers advice on how to recognize warning signs of depression

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Sept. 26, 2019

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Jennifer Johnson McEwen
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Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016. In an effort to raise awareness, mental health advocates are shining a spotlight on this public health epidemic throughout the month of September during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Nationally-renowned expert Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, professor, Emory University School of Medicine and chief psychologist at Grady Health System, says it is natural to be afraid to bring up issues around depression or suicidality with a friend or loved one. However, people who are feeling depressed or suicidal often feel alone and helpless with thoughts inside their head.  What they need most is for someone to reach out and show concern, to be with them and to help them.

Kaslow provides the following ways to recognize the warning signs of someone who is depressed or suicidal:

  • Does the person seem sad? Are they crying or tearful and having a difficult time enjoying things?
  • Does the person have problems feeling OK about themselves, and do they have low self esteem or feel hopeless about the future?
  • Does the person have difficulties eating, sleeping and/or concentrating?
  • Has there been a decline in how the person functions? Are they different socially with friends, with colleagues or in the school/work environment?
  • Has the person started to talk about having thoughts of suicide or death?

If you know someone who may be experiencing one or more of these signs, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The Emory Brain Health Center provides patient-centered care for a full range of psychiatric and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and more. In addition to our extensive adult inpatient psychiatry program, Emory Clinic Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences also offers a wide range of outpatient psychiatry services. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 404-404-778-7777 or 800-753-6679.