SUICIDE PREVENTION WEEK IS HERE AGAIN – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
The news and media remind us of our need to address suicides and mental illness. We do not need another death to speak up against the stigma on mental health issues. Time and time again, we are shocked to see another life lost to suicide. How did anyone not see that he or she was struggling? Suicide prevention week and National suicide prevention awareness month – September is a time to spread the knowledge about suicide and help someone who may be going through a rough time in life.
What is suicide and a suicide attempt?
Suicide is death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.
Suicide attempt is defined as a non-fatal self-directed and potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury.
According to World Health Organization, it is estimated that 800,000 people die each year to suicide. This is means 1 person dies every 40 seconds to suicide. Suicides occur throughout life and while we have an estimated number of deaths, even more people “attempt” suicides each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-34 years old worldwide. Suicide prevention week and National suicide prevention awareness month is a chance for everyone to shed light on suicide, spread more awareness on this killer and protect your mental health as well as those around you.
Risk factors for suicide
Some people are more predisposed to suicide than others. These include:
Patients with mental illnesses such as depression, substance abuse problems, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.
People with physical illnesses especially related to chronic pain.
Men are more likely to carry out a successful suicide. Men unlike women do not express their feelings very much and are likely to choose more lethal means.
A person with a history of attempted suicide in the past is also one to look out for.
Prolonged stress: This might include bullying, relationship problems, divorce (affecting the couple or kids), financial difficulties, loss of a loved one.
Exposure to another persons suicide.
History of child abuse.
Family history of suicide.
Access to weapons, firearms etc.
How can we help?
Know the warning signs:
WORDS: Talking about wanting to die (suicidal ideation) or being tired of life. Some people might have a feeling of being a burden to others or feeling trapped. Some might express a feeling of emptiness.
ACTIONS OR LACK THEREOF: Increased used alcohol or drugs, internet activity related to ways to end their lives, withdrawing from activities, isolation from family and friends. There might be cases of sleeping too much or too little. Giving away treasured possessions and putting affairs in order.
MOOD: Mood changes especially from despair to calm.
KNOW THE A-B-C-D-E -F
I came up with an algorithm to help guide us when dealing with those friends and family who might be in need of our help.
The next time you see someone who looks depressed or who exhibits the risk factors stated above, do not be afraid to approach them and ask questions. Do not ignore the heavy sighs and statements because they might seem ridiculous to you. Do not be afraid to ask direct questions about their plans if you see signs that concern you.
Listen to whatever they have to say without judgement or a condescending tone. Being the person they choose to talk to is great. Do not waste that opportunity to make a change in someones life. Remind them of how much they mean to you and that things will get better.
CALL! COMFORT! CONNECT!
Suggest seeing a healthcare professional. Healthcare specialists are trained to help a person understand their feelings and with the help of pharmacotherapy as well as psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy can increase their mental wellness and reslilience. If they are scared or ashamed to make the first move, offer to make the call for them. It is very important to connect with some sort of support system. If a person has shared their plans to commit suicide, be sure get immediate medical attention.
Access to tools and weapons to commit suicide is a leading factor in successful suicide attempts. Get rid of guns, knives, pills and other aids that the person might need.
The fact you do not understand does not mean it does not exist. Be empathetic. This is no time to argue about religion or debate whether suicide is wrong or right. Listen attentively and be gentle in your speech. Let them know you are there for them. To take it a step further, educate yourself on suicide to get a better understanding of what they might be going through.
It should not just stop there. Check up on them. Plan a coffee date. We all need a reminder that we matter in this world. Show love to everyone around you whenever you get the chance. You never know what they might be going through.