Recognize a Cry for Help That Doesn’t Sound Like a Cry for Help

Not everyone who needs help will ask for it, and not everyone who asks for help will do the same. Sometimes what we call a “cry for help” is not exactly what comes from a point of despair. This is why it is helpful to know how someone in a vulnerable state can beg someone to pay attention to them, even if their words or body language are not the source of their personal crisis.

What is a cry for help?

It sounds more like a colloquial language than a term defined by medical journals, but in the traditional sense, a cry for help is an underestimated expression of the need for help in dealing with serious internal turmoil.

Or, as defined in the Medical Dictionary :

A popular expression for verbal expression – such as making a phone call to hotlines or acting in crisis situations – such as standing on the outer ledge of a tall building, leaving notes in prominent places that indicate a state of extreme mental illness or distress, or the possibility of suicide …

We might associate this phrase as a harbinger of suicide, such as cuts or other non-life-threatening self-harm. But when it comes to asking for help, the cry for help doesn’t have to be that strong. This can manifest itself in more understated ways that are easier to overlook.

What is a cry for help that is not easy to recognize?

Understanding what a cry for help might look like means recognizing some of the signs of depression. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists the following behaviors as indicators of emotional distress and potential harbingers of self-harming behavior:

  • Eat or sleep too much or too little
  • Detachment from people and things
  • Low or no energy
  • Having unexplained aches and pains, such as persistent abdominal pain or headaches.
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Excessive smoking, alcohol or drug use, including prescription drugs
  • Anxiety is time consuming; I feel guilty, but I don’t know why
  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself or someone else
  • Problems adjusting to home or work

You will notice that many of these behaviors, be it overeating or taking prescription drugs, do not necessarily seem to be signs of distress. Of course, many people with depression do not talk about their problems for fear of ostracism or the associated stigmatization, especially men. It is important to understand more underreported symptoms, which may not necessarily seem like an explicit request, because they can definitely sneak up on you when a loved one shows them.

What are the most egregious cries for help?

You will notice that what we might classify as a cry for help rarely includes the words “I need help.” However, some of the ways a person can express a need for help and compassion are more outward, as reported by the Madison University of Wisconsin Department of Health :

  • Oral or written mentions of suicide or death
  • Talk about being a burden to others
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Threats of suicide and / or murder
  • Search for items that can be used while attempting suicide, such as weapons and drugs.

The list of behaviors is also not standard; People can express their helplessness in many ways, so it is important that other people are present and involved in their lives.

How to talk to someone who might be crying out for help

Empathy is always a great way to start. By expressing that you feel someone’s predicament without blaming them, even if their behavior was self-destructive, you show that you ultimately responded to their call. The Cleveland Clinic recommends putting yourself in this person’s shoes “without judgment.” It’s good to “maintain eye contact while listening and say something like,” Sounds difficult. ” I am sorry that you are going through this “and” I am always here for you. “

Of course, therapy can always be recommended if the person hasn’t thought about it yet. Knowing what you cannot fix is ​​also an important lesson, but it is very important to provide a support system for problems that you know you can help with.


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