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What Netflix show "After Life" teaches us about the signs of suicide

** Spoiler alert**

After Life follows comedian and actor, Ricky Gervais, as he plays a writer for a local newspaper, struggling to come to terms with his wife's death. He adopts a gruff new persona in an effort to push away those trying to help. Though the seasons are sprinkled with comedy, it will also leave you teary eyed as he expresses his thoughts and feelings regarding grief, loss, love and suicide. The end of season three is left open for interpretation as to what happens to Ricky, but my clinical eye sees many red flags, which often go un-noticed, but can indicate suicide.

Unusual Changes in behavior This is common for someone who is suicidal, but it’s easy to overlook because the changes may not seem related to depression or hopelessness. For instance, someone you know who is usually kind may become angry and aggressive. Or, someone who has been sad and struggling with depression may suddenly become calm and seemingly happy and at peace. Other changes may include increased substance abuse or unusual mood swings.

Appearing "normal"

The moment the decision is made, it goes “unconscious” and the person goes on what we call “auto-pilot.” People in Stage 3 are imminently lethal; however, they seem more “normal” than they have seemed in a long time. At this point, the depression seems to suddenly lift because the person has made the decision to die and is no longer wrestling with the decision.

Making Preparations

Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put their personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up their room or home.

For more information about suicide and prevention visit Suicide Prevention Line. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, please reach out to either local or national professionals.

Written by Charlotte Cox, MSW, LCSW

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