The warning signs of a suicidal person

Robin Williams' suicide sparks national conversation about depression

NEW YORK (NBC NEWS/WWLP) – At the Crisis Link hotline center in northern Virginia, calls and texts have increased in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide on Monday. Some will reach out and talk about ending their lives, while many suffer in silence.

“We move through our lives with a mask on, smiling and laughing and entertaining and dying on the inside,” explains mental health advocate Terrie Williams.

Warning signs a person may be suicidal include:

  • Giving away valued possessions
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • A pattern of substance abuse
  • Sudden calmness, especially for someone who’s attempted suicide

“The most concerning is dramatic behavior changes,” says Crisis Link’s Laura Mayer. “If they are normally a social person and the stop being social, they start to give away things that are important, they withdraw, angry outbursts, frequent sadness. What you’re looking for is the change in what their normal behavior would be.”

Mayer is program director with Crisis Link. She says there are ways to help someone who is threatening suicide. “Reach out. Call the hotlines that are available. Don’t do it alone, because you can’t,” she says.

Dr. Jack Fanton, a Child Psychiatrist, told 22News, “Typically for a child, for an adult is a deviation from their normal functioning. They’re more withdrawn, they can be irritable. They’re not participating in their activities; they’re not enjoying the activities they’d typically be enjoying.”

If you or someone you know needs help, the national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-talk, or you can text “listen” to 741-741.

Family doctors have information on other suicide prevention resources and community programs. You can also text for help with an online tool at

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