Telltale signs your spouse is feeling suicidal

What you need to know:

  • If someone has previously attempted suicide and no psychological care and counseling were given to them, there is a chance that they can retry in the future.

There is perhaps no bigger blow in a relationship than the death by suicide of a spouse.

While it’s nearly impossible to spot someone who’s about to take their life, there are some foggy signs that can tell you when your spouse has reached the end of their tether.


This is the foremost sign and the leading cause of suicide. According to Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind, by the time a spouse turns suicidal, their state of depression will have spiraled into a severe and pervasive sense of suffering and beliefs and they feel that escape from their situation is hopeless. “The pain of existence often becomes too much to bear and their state of depression warps their thinking to ideas such as ‘They’ll be better off without me,’ in order to rationalise their suicide,” he says.

Self-degradation and the unheard cry for help

In many instances, someone who is suicidal will tend to lose their conscious and subconscious sense of self-preservation. In its place, will be self-hatred, shame, and self-degradation. Additionally, a suicidal person will have been crying out for help. “These people don’t usually want to die. They even try to alert those around them that something is wrong in their life. In some cases, they choose methods they think can’t cause death but which end up fatal, like swallowing poison or taking high doses of a drug,” he says.

Reaction to your concerns

According to Lisa Firestone, the author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, reactions are one of the key things you will need to pay attention to. “When you show concern about your spouse’s wellbeing, she may quickly deny that she is in distress. If she makes actual statements or alludes to suicide, you must take her seriously,” she says. Psychologist Dr. Chris Hart says that in most cases, people who are on their way to committing suicide are very difficult to spot. However, few people will commit suicide based on impulse. In most cases, there will be triggers that will have gone off. “Someone who is contemplating suicide or someone who is on their way to committing suicide will look normal. Their lives will be seemingly happy. But inside, they will be heavily laden with stress and depression,” he says.

Sudden high spirits

This is one of those symptoms that may be hard to spot in a suicidal spouse. According to Ms. Firestone, if someone has finally decided to end their life, they can become calmer, relaxed, and even happier. This is usually because they believe they have found the perfect solution to their pain. Susan Gacheru, a family therapist based in Nakuru explains that this is why those around will say they did not suspect anything. “People will wonder what pushed him over the edge when she appeared happy and content. But in reality, her contentment was just a façade, beneath which were layers and layers of pain that they couldn’t stand anymore,” she says.

Talking about suicide and previous attempts

If someone has previously attempted suicide, and no psychological care and counseling was given to them, there is a chance that they can retry in the future. Dr. Louise Miller, a mental health specialist and the author of Psychological First Aid says that untreated previous suicidal behaviour has a tendency to recur. Dr. Miller also says that you should not downplay someone who says that they can commit suicide, especially a child. “Believe someone who talks about taking their own life. She is not seeking attention. Don’t be judgmental as this may aggravate their situation and alienate them from further opening up to you,” she says.