DANBURY, Conn. -- In light of recent high--profile suicides in Fairfield County — including Westport Police Sgt. Bob Myer and Bethel Police Officer Kevin Kennedy — Danbury social worker Megan Duffy Knight wants to help prevent these terrible tragedies from continuing to happen.
From her experience in the field, Knight shares the types of behaviors to look for in friends and family members that can indicate an intention to kill themselves. She also explains how to help them before it's too late. Here are some tips:
- Suicidal comments: "Take all comments that are made about suicide seriously, even if the person says it in a joking manner," Knight said. "If you read hopeless or helpless comments or a reference to dying or death, you can never dismiss it." She explained this includes comments made on social media such as Twitter or Facebook.
- Sudden loss of interest in something the person likes doing: This can include a special hobby or sport.
- Giving away possessions or paying an unexpected visit to someone: "This can be their way of saying goodbye," Knight said. "Be aware if the person is sounding as if this is the last time you will see or hear from him or her."
- Putting affairs in order. Examples include changing a will or tying up loose ends.
- Tempting fate: "If they suddenly engage in behavior that can put themselves in danger or is uncharacteristic of them such as driving erratically, taking up a dangerous sport or getting involved with drugs or alcohol. This can be a sign of a death wish," she said.
- Any unusual change in behavior. "In some instances, the change in behavior can at first sound as if it's a good thing," Duffy said. "An example is if they're usually very negative and suddenly, they sound happy and you don't notice anything that seems to have changed in their circumstances to make them feel this way. This can mean the person has already planned the suicide and is already feeling a sense of relief."
She said everyone needs to be observant. "There is no way to know how people are going to express suicidal tendencies. Look at all the knowledge you have about the person, what his or her interests are and what is usual or not usual for this person, and take it seriously," she said.
"Approach them and question them about the unusual behavior. Say ''I'm really worried about you. I think you need to talk to someone and I will go with you.'" Duffy said. "If they don't want to go, seek out what supports are available to them and make sure you get them help."
The Northwest Suicide Hotline, which is at Danbury Hospital and is open 24-7, is 888-447-3339. For suicide hotlines in other parts of Connecticut, click here. If a person is suspected to be in imminent danger, call 911.
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