According to Suicide Prevention, suicide is among the top 10 causes of death per year. 34,598 deaths are attributed to suicide, 34,598 preventable deaths. That’s 11.3% deaths per 100,000 people. 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death. Those statistics are both staggering and disturbing.
Two of the main reasons for suicide is Depression and Bipolar Disorder. You can find symptoms for both of these here Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
It’s important to respond to the person with strength and courage. If you are afraid to talk about the topic with them, then you are likely to lose out on your chance to help them. Please realize that suicide is not some flaw in a person’s character, nor are they weak and they are absolutely not cowards. These feelings do not just go away and treatment is necessary.
The symptoms mentioned in the link above, combined together could lead someone to consider suicide. Reminding the person that recovery is possible can be encouraging to the person contemplating their own death. When someone is going through depression, they often use something called “selective memory”. This is where the person only focuses on the negatives in their lives. This is a symptom of their illness and requires attention and treatment.
With treatment the person can find hope to push through this difficult time.
Recognizing the Signs
- Feelings of despair. The person may talk about their situation as being unbearable or overwhelming. They may express self-doubt, self-blame or guilt for something they have done. The more someone talks about these things, the more they are contemplating suicide.
- Taking care of personal affairs – For instance, making sure family members will be cared for once they are gone. Taking out life insurance policies, assigning beneficiaries, settling trusts and custody arrangements for their children.
- Rehearsing their suicide.
- Discussing certain methods.
- Talk of suicide come and go in an attempt to build up to the impulsive action.
- Drugs and alcohol abuse as a way to help them with the impulsive action.
- Beginning to feel better – with affairs in place, knowing the end is coming soon, most feel better and at peace with their decision.
How can you help someone contemplating suicide:
- Take them seriously. Do not blow them off and think they are just venting. This is NOT the case. They are reaching out to you for help.
- Involve others – friends, family members, their psychiatrist, their therapists, the crisis hotline
- Express your concern – Give concrete evidence that the person is contemplating suicide.
- Listen closely to the person, hold their hand, hold them close to you and comfort them.
- Ask direct questions – Try to find out specific details of their plan, determine which method they are considering using.
- Offer reassurance. Remind them that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Remind them that there is help available to them.
- Don’t promise confidentiality. A true friend or close family member will seek out help for the person they love, the person that is in crisis.
- Take all guns, medications and harmful objects and put them some place out of reach. This includes ropes, knives, plastic bags, ect.
- Don’t leave the person alone until they are in the hands of a trained professional.
- Express sympathy – Do not play therapist. They don’t want to be told what to do.
- Talk about it – Talking about suicide does not plant the idea in the person’s head. It lets them know you are there for them and not afraid to talk to them about their concerns. This is a oppurtunity to explore how they are feeling, their thoughts and actions. This can provide you with valuable information to your friend who may be depressed. Take any mention of suicide seriously!
- Take note to when, where and how the person plans on following through with their suicide.
- Describe behaviors and events that bother you – How they have changed. This could strike up the conversation enough for them to open up to you about how they are feeling.
- Work with professionals. Call their pdoc, tdoc, crisis line. Don’t be afraid to call for an ambulance if your friend or family member isn’t willing to go to the hospital voluntarily.
- Stress how important the person’s life is to you. How devastated you and others would be if they were to take their own life.
- Be prepared for them to be angry with you. They may feel betrayed, but later may thank you for saving their life.
- Be supportive – They may feel guilt and shame. Assure them that you understand it’s their illness.
- Take care of yourself
I have contemplated suicide many times in the past. I can count 2 attempts that didn’t get me the help I needed and numerous threats that have also not gotten me the help I needed. It wasn’t until I reached out on my own before I got any serious help. I urge you not to put someone else in that position. They may feel as though their pleas for help are going unheard and they may act. Do not make yourself wonder what you could have done when all these examples are in front of you.
If someone you know is in crisis, please, reach out to them, offer them support, call the crisis line at
1-800-273-8255. If the person is in serious danger call 911 and have an ambulance sent and them taken to the closest Emergency Room. Once a suicide is completed, there is no turning back.
Until next time…..
- Suicide: The Non-Solution (viewfromapalm.wordpress.com)