Most people who are considering suicide do not want to die, they want to stop hurting and they cannot find a way through their hopelessness. They may not ask for help, but because they don’t ask, it doesn’t mean they don’t want help.
Someone contemplating suicide is desperate to escape some type of suffering that for them has come to the point that they can no longer bear the burden. They are so distraught and blinded by their own hopelessness, fears, self loathing and isolation that the only way they can see to get relief is through death. This doesn’t mean they want to die; it means they need help. Most suicidal people are very conflicted about the potential of ending their own lives and want an alternative, but they just can’t find it on their own. You can help them.
Suicide Prevention: Recognize the warning signs of Suicide
Most individuals who are contemplating suicide usually give signals or warning signs of their intentions, whether they want to or not. The best defense we have against suicide is to be aware of these signs and to take them seriously. By paying attention to actions and statements and taking the steps to intervene you may save a life.
Some warning signs to be aware of are:
- Suicidal statements – any statements about harming themselves, suicide, dying or wishing they had never been born. Do not ignore these statements.
- Acquiring lethal means such as a weapon, medications, knives or other objects that could be used to attempt suicide.
- Preoccupation with death – An excessive focus on death, dying or violence. Drawings, sketches, writings about death in excess that varies from the normal.
- Hopelessness – expressions of hopelessness or helplessness. Statements about feeling trapped and having no way out. Expressions that things in their life will never get better or change, that there is no hope.
- Feelings of worthlessness – Self hatred, shame, guilt, self loathing behaviors. Feeling as if they are a burden to others who they love and that others would be better off if they were dead.
- Preparation work for death – Giving away treasured possessions, making a will. Making arrangements for their death for family members, making their wishes known. “I want to be cremated when I’m dead”.
- Isolation – withdrawal from friends and family, social isolation and the desire to be left alone.
- Self destructive behaviors – Alcohol use, drug use, unsafe sex, reckless driving. Beginning to take serious risks as if they have a death wish.
- Goodbye messages – Sometimes subtle and unusual visits to friends and family, phone calls or letters to those they haven’t seen in awhile with subtle goodbyes.
- Unusual calmness – A sudden calmness and happiness in a previously severely depressed person can mean that the decision has been made to commit suicide.
Suicide Prevention: Common Misconceptions about Committing Suicide
- “If someone talks about suicide, they won’t really commit suicide” – Not true. Almost anyone who has committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide has giving some type of warning. Simple statements such as “I wish I had never been born” or “I’d be better off dead” even when said in jest can be a warning sign of suicidal thoughts.
- “Discussing suicide can give someone the idea” – Not true. Actually, talking about the subject and openly talking about it can be helpful for the suicidal person.
- “If someone wants to kill themselves you can’t stop them” – Not true. Even the most suicidal person has mixed thoughts about death. Most suicidal people do not want to die, they want help.
- “People who commit suicide refused to get any help” – Not true. Many studies of suicide victims show that more than half of them had sought out treatment and medical help within six months prior to their suicide.
Suicide Prevention: What You Can Do to Stop Someone Committing Suicide
If you believe that a family member or friend is suicidal you can point out alternatives for them, show compassion and caring, notify their doctor or psychologist. You need to be there to listen and while listening pay close attention for any signs of imminent suicide. If you strongly believe that they are suicidal do not leave them alone.
If you or someone you love is thinking of suicide speak up. Do not ignore the signs of potential suicide. Every life is worth saving and you can do something to save that life. With understanding, support and reassurance you can help them get the help they need to cope with the issues in their life. Do not be afraid to speak up but it must be said, it must be addressed, you cannot ignore signs of suicide.
If you are considering suicide or you believe someone you love is thinking of suicide please call 1-800-273-TALK to get help.
April 16th, 2010
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