Recently, Reddit user u/IncessantlyBored asked, “What is a sign of a cry for help that isn’t obvious to the average person?” I wrote a post of the fascinating, important examples of small behavioral changes in others that can be signs that something is wrong.
Here’s what they shared:
“Anger is a sign — especially when someone typically isn’t an ‘angry person.’ The problem is no one likes angry people, so often, it’s not seen as a red flag.”
“I used to work for a suicide prevention/crisis helpline, and someone going very rapidly from highly stressed and anxious to seemingly happy and carefree is a sign of very high suicidal ideations. This seems counterintuitive, but it actually occurs often because when someone is terminally depressed and finally comes to a concrete decision to end their own life — they often feel a euphoric sense of relief. Just remember, if you have ANY WORRIES about someone being suicidal, BE INTRUSIVE! Better someone you love be annoyed than dead.”
“A big flag is when someone seems to overreact to things a lot — a hair-trigger temper, or just getting really upset and overwhelmed by seemingly minor issues. My mother used to say, ‘When someone is overreacting to something, there are other things going on that they are also reacting to that you don’t know about.'”
“My main tell is my voice. It drops in volume, and people have to ask me to speak up. I don’t always know until someone comments on it, but it invariably happens when I’m severely depressed.”
“Typically, when my depression gets bad, I will go radio silent with my friends and won’t see anyone. I close in on myself because I feel like crap.”
“A red flag is when someone starts giving up really easily when confronted by obstacles. When someone just instantly gives up after a setback rather than persisting in looking for a solution, it can be a sign that they are either too overwhelmed or depleted in energy to cope.”
“Saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ for everything or taking the blame for things that shouldn’t even have a blame.”
“Reaching out and being overly nice to friends both close and casual with the hope that they will reciprocate and eventually ask them how they’re doing, so that when they open up, it’s not about being a burden, but because they were prompted to do so.”
“Giving a lot of personal possessions away without wanting anything in return.”
“The person stops caring about their appearance and neglects their hygiene and grooming because in their mind they are thinking, ‘It doesn’t matter, so why bother?'”
“Excessive drinking when they usually don’t.”
“When someone is constantly busy so they don’t give themselves time to think. Also, when someone gives up on a lot of basic things like cleaning or washing up because they can’t think about anything except what’s bothering them.”
“Lack of interest. Gamer all of a sudden no longer games? Gardener let his plants die? Social butterfly now hides in a cave?”
“Sleeping all day and having no interest.”
“When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation, even in a very public setting, it can be a sign that they’re in too much pain even to try masking it.”
“Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics. Sometimes, when a person is constantly feeling like shit, the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around. Oftentimes, being with friends/family can be a brief escape from always feeling awful, and so bringing up negative topics can ruin this feeling of escape and make the depression feel never-ending and suffocating.”
“Oversharing and lack of filter goes hand in hand with depression.”
“Becoming attached to objects or other non-human things is one I have noticed quite a lot about some people I know who have struggled.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US and UK from the Crisis Text Line.