People Share The Secret Signs Of ‘Cries For Help’ That Look Totally Normal

It's easy to think you would — and some cries for help are pretty easy to identify. Still, there are all kinds of ways a person might reach out for help, and many of them are subtle.

A recent r/AskReddit thread asked "What is a sign of a 'cry for help' that isn't obvious to the average person?" and the responses poured in.

It's no exaggeration to say that some of these submissions could be life-savers.

Before we begin, a disclaimer: some of the discussion here deals with self-harm or suicide.

"Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics."

Unsplash | Priscilla Du Preez

"Sometimes when a person is constantly feeling [bad] the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around. Oftentimes being with friends/family can be a brief escape from always feeling awful and so bringing up negative topics can ruin this feeling of escape and make the depression feel never-ending and suffocating."



Unsplash | Gregory Pappas

"People sleep more when they are avoiding a person/issue, when they are depressed, and when they are physically sick. In the case of someone who is high energy, and suddenly they have none is a big heads up, too."


"When they start cutting off contact."

Unsplash | Lindsey LaMont

"That outgoing, happy person suddenly 'Just isn't up to it,' or 'Maybe some other time,' then something is wrong. Also if they stopped caring about their physical appearance."


"Second hand suicide."

Unsplash | Priscilla Du Preez

"[Like] when they joke about being killed in an accident. This is usually because they feel there are people in life who need them and they don't want to commit suicide themselves."


"A reduction in food consumption."

Unsplash | Thought Catalog

"I’ve found when I’ve fallen down the hole and I just stop caring anymore I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I normally do. Instead of having the standard three or four meal things a day I’ll be lucky to convince myself to have two as I simply don’t care anymore"


"Losing interest in things a person usually found to be a source of enjoyment."

Unsplash | Dmitry Schemelev

"Depression is a very insidious illness and a very isolating one. Sometimes it can be hard to spot, because people are very conditioned to hide it."


"Sleeping all day and having no interest."

Unsplash | Kristina Tripkovic

"No one cares, they just walk by or don’t understand. Makes you feel very alone. I don’t want someone to fix me but I do want someone to show they care. Also drinking a lot when you have never been a drinker."


"When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation."

Unsplash | Fa Barboza

"It can be a sign that they're in too much pain even to try masking it. I've also heard of severely depressed people who abruptly 'snap out of it,' and go perky, and that can be indicative of a person who was agonizing over whether to end things, who has now decided to do so."


"Lack of interest."

Unsplash | Eric Ward

"Gamer all of a sudden no longer games? Gardener let his plants die? Social butterfly now hides in a cave?"


"Reaching out."

Unsplash | Hassan OUAJBIR

"...and being overly nice to friends both close and casual with the hope that they will reciprocate and eventually ask them how they’re doing, so that when they open up it’s not about being a burden but because they were prompted to do so."


"When someone is constantly busy so they don’t give themselves time to think."


"Also when someone gives up on a lot of basic things like cleaning or doing washing up because they can’t think about anything except what’s bothering them."


"Extreme mood swings."

Unsplash | Claudia Wolff

"It’s important to tenderly support someone displaying these as they probably don’t feel in control of them."


"A dramatic personality shift."

Unsplash | arash payam

"Truth be told, most people don't care enough about someone to take mental note of their behaviors. When that person's personality and behavior changes, the friend has no clue at all and acts like everything is okay."


"Reckless behavior."

Unsplash | why kei

"It's not always 'funny' or badass. There is often a 'nothing matters anymore' thought behind or a deep feeling of emptiness which can be filled for a short time with risky behavior."


"Becoming withdrawn is a very common one."

Unsplash | Noah Silliman

"Self-deprecating humour is something you should watch out for, too. It's often a sign of depression/anxiety."


"A bad, defensive mood."

Unsplash | Nik Shuliahin

"One of the big reasons mental health irl isn't romantic at all, and people who need help aren't noticed is because when going through something we don't act like people others want to be around at all."


"People that are suffering and feeling isolated will start to lose their ability to thermoregulate."

Unsplash | Amin Hasani

"They will feel cold all the time. This will lead them to wear extra layers or heavier clothes than would be normal for conditions, taking longer hotter showers, always the first to grab a throw to cuddle under."


"Suddenly seeming at peace and happy."

Unsplash | Jamie Brown

"It can be a sign a person has made a plan to unalive themselves and are therefore not warring with their depression trying to stay alive. But friends and family sometimes see it as them 'getting better'."


"Marked differences in behavior where the person becomes way more positive and energetic than normal."

Unsplash | Joel Mott

"We tend to think of these sorts of changes as being good, but any sudden and large enough change in behavior is something you need to keep an eye on. This is especially true if they are going from a very negative pattern of thinking/behavior into an uber-positive one very quickly. Usually, those 'now I feel like I can conquer the world' changes are the precursor to suicide attempts and the like."


There's help out there.

Unsplash | NordWood Themes

If you or anyone else needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Just dial 1-800-273-8255.