Since September is a Suicide Prevention Month, it is important to understand the magnitude of this problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates almost 1 million people die every year from suicide. What makes a person decide to commit suicide? It is difficult to understand what drives so many people to take their own lives. But it is widely acknowledged that suicidal victims want to end their sufferings because they see no hope and cannot bear any further pain since they are in a perpetual state of hopelessness and depression.
Suicide warning signs – what to look for
- Talking about Suicide: One of the earliest signs that a person can detect with a suicidal victim is that he/she may start talking about committing suicide by using expressions such as: “I wish I were dead” I wish I wasn’t born” with an unusual focus on death.
- Self-loathing and regrets: A person who wants to commit suicide feels guilty, unwanted, worthless, hopeless and feels hated.
- Seeks out dangerous means: A suicidal person starts searching for means to kill himself/herself. He or she will try to look for access to guns, knives, pills or other objects that could end his or her life.
- Getting their affairs in order: A suicidal person will make unexpected visits or calls to family and friends by saying good-byes as if they will never meet again, and/or will give away prized possessions to family and friends, makes his/her will, or makes arrangements for family members to be cared for in years to come.
- Wants to be alone: A suicidal person is withdrawn from family and friends and goes into social isolation.
- Displays self-destructive behavior: Will take unnecessary risks as if he/she has a wish to die. Drives recklessly, increases alcohol consumption, or subjects himself/herself to drug abuse.
- A sudden sense of calm after they are extremely depressed: It means he/she has made up his/her mind to commit suicide.
How to help a suicidal person
The best way a family member or friend can help is by being empathetic. Lend a listening ear. Let your loved one know and understand that he/she is not alone and that you care. You can offer help but do not take responsibility for making your loved one well. The suicidal person has to take that responsibility upon him/herself to recover.
It is a very courageous and a daunting task to help a suicidal person recover from depression and self-destructive thoughts. It is very painful for family members emotionally to go through helping a suicidal person recover. Family members should also seek counselors to talk about their feelings and will need to ask for professional help with their suicidal family member in certain cases. Call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255 for professional help.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 90 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from one or more mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression or alcoholism.
However depression plays a much larger role in all suicides. Therefore, as a family member, encourage a healthy lifestyle in a suicidal victim; introduce plenty of sleep and getting in the sun with family and friends for at least an hour a day. Exercise is extremely important for a suicidal person as it introduces endorphins, promotes emotional wellbeing and relieves stress.
Even if an immediate suicidal crisis has passed, monitor the suicidal family member/friend closely. Keep all potential means of suicide out of the reach of the suicidal person like pills, guns, knives, etc.
If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call 9-1-1.
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Health Contributor, eParisExtra.com