Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for someone with bipolar disorder to become suicidal. Anyone who is thinking about committing suicide needs immediate attention, preferably from a mental health professional or a physician. Anyone who talks about suicide should be taken seriously.
The risk for suicide appears to be higher earlier in the course of the illness. Therefore, recognizing bipolar disorder early and learning how best to manage it may decrease the risk of death by suicide.
Some signs and symptoms that may accompany suicidal thoughts or feelings include:
1) Talking about feeling suicidal or wanting to die.
2) Feeling hopeless, or that nothing in life will ever change or get better.
3) Feeling helpless, that nothing one does makes any difference.
4) Feeling like a burden to family and friends.
5) Abusing alcohol or drugs.
6) Putting affairs in order (e.g., organizing finances or giving away possessions to prepare for one’s death).
7) Writing a suicide note.
8) Putting oneself in harm’s way, or in situations where there is a danger of being killed.
If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who is:
1) Call a doctor, emergency room, or dial 911 right away to get immediate help.
2) Make sure you, or the suicidal person, are not left alone.
3) Make sure that access is prevented to large amounts of medication, weapons, or other items that could be used for self-harm.
While some suicide attempts are carefully planned over time, others are impulsive acts that have not been well thought out; thus, the final point in the box above may be a valuable long-term strategy for people with bipolar disorder.
Either way, it is important to understand that suicidal feelings and actions are symptoms of an illness that can be treated. With proper treatment, suicidal feelings can be overcome.