Suicide – Recognizing the Signs

Suzanne Berteau Hamilton, LPC, NCC - Executive Director, Ascension Counseling Center

     A marriage ends. A child is bullied online. A painful illness becomes chronic. Each of these situations can be devastating and lead to feelings that life is hopeless and it would be better if you weren’t around to suffer any more.  Some people even choose to end their own life by suicide. September is Suicide Prevention Month, a time when we send a clear message that counseling does make a difference. Depression, hopelessness, and devastation can be treated successfully.

     Did you know. . .?

     Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in Louisiana

     That Ascension Parish ranks 40th out of 64 parishes in Louisiana with the highest suicide rate.

     Twenty-two parishes have lower suicide rates that we do

     Ascension Parish had five suicides in 2012

     We believe that for each adult who completed suicide, there were 20 others who made unsuccessful attempts, 908 (20 percent of those who were surveyed) of Ascension Parish school children said they have thought about suicide in their lives.

The Warning Signs. . .

Although we can’t determine exactly who will try suicide, the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center has put out a list of possible symptoms of suicidal thoughts. These warning signs of risks include individual feelings, thoughts, actions, physical symptoms, and situations.


Lonely, sad, hopeless, helpless, worthless, apathetic, angry, guilty, desperate, ashamed, distressed, scared.


“All my problems will end soon.” “I just can’t take it anymore.” “I wish I were dead.” “No one can do anything to help me.” “I’m at the end of my rope.” “Everyone will be better off without me.”


Withdrawal from family, friends, co-workers.

Loss of interest in activities, hobbies, sports.

Making final arrangements: giving away possessions, tidying up, “saying” good-bye.

Recklessness or impulsivity

Extreme behavior changes – negative AND positive



Preoccupation with death/dying


Lack of interest in appearance

Changes in appetite/weight/sleep patterns

Lack of physical energy

Change/loss of sexual interest

Increase in minor ailments


Death/loss/suicide of someone else

Divorce or separation

Sexual or physical abuse

Work, relationship, financial problems

Dependency on drugs or alcohol

Criminal activity or court involvement

     So, what should you do if you think a person is having suicidal thoughts? The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services has a few tips.

     Ask the person directly if he/she is having suicidal thoughts or ideas. For example, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” or “Have you ever tried to hurt yourself before?” Many people believe the myth that talking openly about suicide will plant the idea in someone’s mind if they haven’t been considering it. Experience has shown that this is not true. Rather, it will open the door for productive conversations that may lead to a hurting individual asking for help.

     Ask if they have a plan to commit suicide.

     Ask if they have access to the means to commit suicide.

     The Ascension Counseling Center is here to help the residents of Ascension Parish who may be suffering from depression and are considering suicide. If anyone needs to seek counseling, please contact Sarah Cuti, intake coordinator at Ascension Counseling Center at 225-450-1158.  The center is located at 1112-A So. E. Ascension Complex in Gonzales. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).