If you’re worried about a friend’s mental health, listen for these words.

When we lose someone to suicide, whether it was a public figure or someone we knew in our personal lives, most of us ask ourselves if there were anything that we could have done to prevent the loss of a life. We might go back over conversations we had with the deceased or we might review videos of recorded interviews of individuals who were in the public eye. On one hand, we want to “see for ourselves” something that we might have missed in the person’s demeanor or mood. On the other hand, we want reassurance that there was nothing that gave any indication that we should have been strongly concerned about that person’s well-being. None of us want an “I knew it was going to happen” type of inner revelation – that could put us in an emotional chokehold that could affect our own well-being long-term.

Many people who are truly serious about ending their lives are going to do so without a lot of preamble or hints of upcoming actions. The number of people who actually leave a note is reported between a quarter and a third of all those who complete suicide; this adds further support to the notion that suicide can be a very private act that is about what the individual is feeling in the moment, not about their feelings about what their death might mean for others. Talking about suicide with someone who is depressed and seems to be losing their battle with the disease and is expressing a desire for escape or death is not going to push them into suicide attempt that they would not have otherwise taken. However, it might actually be the motivation needed to seek out professional assistance.

– Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.

Read more: Suicidal Ideation: 19 Words to Watch out For

Image source – Flickr.com