Polk County Medical Examiner

Coping with Death

Depression, and the variety of ways it manifests itself, is part of a natural emotional and physical response to life's ups and downs. With the death of a loved one, it is safe to assume that you will experience periods of reactive (or situational) depression. It is when the depressive symptoms become so EXTREME or are so enduring that they begin to interfere with your ability to function in school, work, or social environment, that you will be in need of assistance.

Look for a pattern of these indicators
  • Tearfulness/general emotionality
  • Markedly diminished performance
  • Infrequent class attendance
  • Lack of energy/motivation
  • Increased anxiety (generalized, test, performance)
  • Irritability
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Alcohol or drug use

Suicide Warning Signs
  • The person gives away prized possessions for no apparent reason.
  • The person makes statements indicating a wish to die.
  • The person has made a prior attempt.
  • The person comes from a family where other members have attempted or completed suicide. (However, suicidal behavior is not "inherited.")
  • The person stops interacting with friends and withdraws from previously enjoyed activities. The person may also neglect schoolwork and/or show no interest in making plans for the future.
  • The person engages in repeated risk-taking or self-destructive behavior, such as cutting oneself.
  • The person shows major changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, or other behaviors.
  • The person expresses feelings of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness, and feels unable to cope.
  • The person displays violent behavior.
  • The person is obsessed with death and dying.
  • The person has many physical symptoms of stress, such as stomachaches, headaches, etc.
  • The person suddenly becomes very happy after a prolonged episode of depression and despair. (This may indicate that a decision has been made to carry through with a suicide plan.)
  • The person begins using alcohol or other drugs at dangerous levels.


If any of the above warning signs are present, this may be an indication that help is needed immediately!!!

Additional resources for coping with death
Classes for children dealing with a death of a loved one
Classes for retired adults ("GRAVE matters")

 


Contact Us

To report a death call (515) 286-3333
1801 Hickman Rd
Des Moines, Iowa 50314
(515) 286-2102 (Days)
(515) 286-3333 (Other times)
Fax: (515) 286-2208