Suicide Awareness

Around 800,000 people die each year in the world due to suicide. Statistically, Europe has the highest suicide rate. Each year, thousands of people in the UK end their lives by suicide. In 2017, the number of suicides was nearly 6,000.  Unfortunately, suicide is all too common in today’s society and is actually in the top 10 common death causes. Therefore, it is important to know how to prevent it.

Risk Factors

The main risk factors for suicide include illness, psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression, schizophrenia), adolescence crisis, divorce, mid-age crisis, stepping into the retired age. However, suicide is higher among adolescences and the elderly between the ages of 65 -70. The explanation for this is that there are significant life changes in these age groups. Teenage years can be an emotional rollercoaster, with added pressure to fit in. Their personality transforms as well as they might encounter their first ‘big slap from life’. Though this is a given in life, the risk appears when one lacks a support network or has a hostile social or school environment.

 

One contributing factor to suicide at age 65-70 is high rates of depression in the elderly that is left undiagnosed and untreated. Depression may appear through bereavement, physical illness, disability, and other major changes, such as retirement, loss of sense of purpose or uncertain of the future.

 

The signs

The main warning signs are the following:

  1. Talking/writing in detail about death.
  2. Expressing thoughts about hurting/killing him/herself.
  3. Looking for possible objects to commit suicide with: becoming more interested in weapons, pills, types of poisons, or in any objects which are suitable for committing suicide.
  4. A sense of hopelessness: One feels things will never get better, only worse, feels trapped.
  5. Becoming distant: One is getting more and more isolated, lonely. Abandoning the hobbies, activities they used to enjoy.
  6. Self-hatred: feeling worthless, guilty or hate towards themselves
  7. Mood swings (depression, bipolar disorder aka manic depression).
  8. Change in personality.
  9. Saying goodbye: Unexpected visits to friends and relatives, saying goodbye as if you would never meet again.
  10. Losing interest in everyday activities.
  11. Neglecting their appearance.
  12. Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
  13. A history of suicide in their family or friendship group.
  14. Has previously attempted to take their own life.

 

Prevention

So, what can you do then? Most importantly: recognize the signs and take them seriously. People who consider committing suicide will always produce the ‘cry for help’ warning signs mentioned above, which aren’t that easy to recognize. In some cases, even if someone spots these suicidal attributes, it does not mean they necessarily know how to handle or to help them. Recognising the signs can be scary and shocking, which may turn some to an avoiding the situation completely which, in turn, makes the person feeling suicidal feel even worse. It is natural to feel uncomfortable, but anyone who shows warning signs needs help as soon as possible, it is important to react quickly in such a crisis.  If you don’t know what to do, please try not to ignore and seek help from a professional. But of course, there some things you can do as a non-professional when you spot the warning signs.

Tip #1

If you recognize the warning signals in someone you care about, simply bring up the subject of suicide. Discussing it openly is super helpful. Showing that you care might prevent a suicide attempt.

Tip #2

Don’t judge. Be patient and accepting. Make the person with suicidal thoughts feel as if they are doing the right thing by opening up to you.

Tip #3

Give new perspectives and distractions. Positive lifestyle changes, even small ones are extremely helpful. Such as getting out of the house for half an hour, petting an animal or exercise.

Tip #4

Don’t talk about the future. It might seem like a good idea mentioning all the happy, bright things one can achieve, but it rather will remind the suicide person what they cannot achieve. Majority of the people escape in suicide because they see their future as hopeless.

Tip #5

Don’t make them feel guilty. Don’t ask questions such as “what about your children/family/friends?”. Don’t make them feel they are the selfish one, and what they are about to complete is bad.

Tip #6

Don’t be angry at them because of the way they feel.

Tip #7

If you feel you can’t deal with this by yourself, try to ask other family members/friends to take care of them. Taking care for someone who has suicide intentions by yourself might be emotionally exhausting, a support team is useful not just for your mental wellbeing but theirs too. At the end of the day, I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is to seek a mental health professional or calling the suicide helpline

If you would like to know more about the topic or you feel you need help I’d recommend visiting the following website https://www.helpguide.org/

Or call one of the suicide helplines which are available 24 hours

  • 116 123
  • 0800 83 85 87
  • 999

 

Sources:

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics

http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/suicide