It may be the hardest thing you ever do, but it may save a life. If you’re concerned that a loved one’s depression may lead to suicide, talk to them.

“Some people think talking about suicide gives someone the idea of suicide ... this is a myth,” says Tausha Taylor, a licensed professional counselor and owner of Tailored Counseling in St. Joseph.

There are some common signs or symptoms of severe depression but they often vary, Taylor says.

Signs to watch for include:

-- The person is sad more often than he or she is happy

-- Tearfulness

-- Changes in sleep patterns

-- Changes in eating habits

-- Decreased energy and motivation

--- Loss of interest in things the person previously enjoyed

Other warning signs can be if the person expresses an inability to concentrate or think clearly, feelings of extreme guilt or worthlessness, thoughts of death and difficulty making decisions, Taylor adds.

If he or she talks f thoughts of suicide or a plan to end their life, help is needed.

“If you are concerned, speak up and ask if they are considering or thinking about suicide,” Taylor says. “Instead of asking, ‘Do you want to hurt yourself?’ ask ‘Do you want to kill yourself?’”

Ask if the person has a plan. If he or she says, “Yes,” ask what the plan is.  

Do not leave the person alone and offer to connect them with a counselor in person or over the phone. Don’t be afraid to call 911 or take them to the emergency room.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides support to people contemplating suicide or their loved ones. The lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-273-8255. An online chat also is available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

"Take all statements or threats seriously,” Taylor says. “Show them empathy, let them know you care, listen, don’t judge them.”

Taylor says to remember, “OEE.”

Ask open-ended questions, listen to the person’s answer, respond with empathy and provide encouragement.  

“By talking about this difficult topic we can possibly prevent someone from taking their life, show you care and we can get them help,” Taylor says. “You can make a difference.”