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Suicide – What You Should Know
“Suicide sometimes comes from cowardice, but not always; because cowardice sometimes prevents it; because as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live.”
Charles Caleb Colton
Few people are aware that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death for people worldwide. It is truly a worldwide problem. However, it is a sad fact when you consider the number of preventive measures available to deal with these tragic situations. Unfortunately, it is also the essence of suicide that makes it difficult for you to truly protect your loved ones.
TOP warning signs
In rare cases, there may be no sign or symptom at all before an individual commits suicide. However, if you make a constant effort to spend time with the people you care about, you can be more attuned to warning signs that are easily overlooked by others.
A person is at high risk of committing suicide if he or she has any of the following signs or symptoms:
• Talking, thinking or writing about suicidal thoughts – even if it’s just now and then.
• Making a conscious effort to get a means to commit suicide, for example stocking up on pills or buying a gun.
• Displaying behaviors that indicate social withdrawal, such as spending too much time alone or avoiding contact with other people.
• Having extreme or even occasional mood swings for unexplained reasons.
• Spending too much time thinking or talking about matters related to violence or death.
• Admit that they feel hopeless or trapped by a certain situation in their personal life, at school or at work.
• Increased consumption of drugs, alcohol, nicotine or any other form of substance abuse.
• Sudden and unexplained changes in their regular routine, such as their sleeping patterns and eating habits.
• Taking sudden and excessive unnecessary risks with their lives, such as reckless driving, gambling, taking drugs or having unprotected sex.
• Writing their last will, making arrangements about how their belongings should be disposed of when they were gone or giving away belongings for seemingly no valid reason.
• Say goodbye as if they are leaving or leaving for good.
• Exhibiting major personality changes as well as showing a serious inability to deal with stress and anxiety or life in general.
It is always better to play it safe when it comes to individuals who may be at risk of committing suicide. If you have reason to expect that a loved one is entertaining thoughts of harming himself or herself, you should contact the proper authorities about it. Be sure to share your concerns with other people so they can also watch over your loved one.
If you are personally at risk of committing suicide, there are proactive measures you can take to prevent it. The coping strategies below cover it in more detail, but here are a few of the main points to consider.
• Talk to a loved one or close friend about what you are going through. Take the courage to be completely honest about your situation.
• Contact suicide prevention hot lines. Crisis helplines are free and 24/7.
• Talk to a spiritual counselor if you feel this can help your situation.
• Seek professional help.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF SUICIDE
It is difficult to identify the exact cause for suicide. One surprising fact, however, is the possibility of genetics being associated with suicide. Some studies show that there may be a genetic component relevant to suicide. If there is a history of suicide in your family, it may also put you at greater risk of committing suicide. This is not meant to alarm anyone who may find themselves in this particular situation. Rather, it is intended to empower people to be aware of all possible risks. Being aware of all possible risks can be very powerful. In other words, once you know that there may be a potential risk, you are better able to equip yourself with the necessary coping skills and strategies listed below.
Here is a list of situations that commonly act as a trigger for suicidal thoughts or actual suicide attempts.
• Do you feel lonely, socially isolated or hopeless about your life?
• Has something stressful happened in your life recently and it’s something you feel you can’t handle? Examples of this include, but are not limited to, losing a loved one, participating in your first battle as a military officer, breaking up with your partner, being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, finding out you are bankrupt, or becoming a target of a lawsuit.
• Substance abuse is not always a symptom of suicide. Sometimes it can be one of their triggers because the side effects can make you more open to entertaining suicidal thoughts.
• Do you have access to any resources for attempted suicide?
• Is it possible that you suffer from some kind of psychiatric disorder? This includes, but is not limited to, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, paranoia, phobia or psychosis.
• Is there a history of mental illness of any kind in your family? What about a history of suicide, physical abuse, or substance abuse?
• Do you suffer from some kind of illness where depression is one of its possible symptoms?
• Do you suffer from any kind of discrimination?
• Is there something important in your life that you do not receive critical support from your loved ones? An example of this is if your family does not approve of your lifestyle, work, or your decision to come out as gay.
Special factors should be considered when you are concerned about children or teenagers committing suicide.
• Is your child likely to suffer from some kind of mental or psychiatric disorder, or not?
• Is your child troubled by a problematic relationship with a family member or close friend?
• Is there a history of any kind of abuse in your family?
• Is your child exposed to substance abuse of any kind?
• Is your child pregnant?
• Is there a possibility that your child has an STD or a sexually transmitted infection of any kind?
• Does your child suffer from bullying or discrimination?
• Does your child appear to have problems with his or her sexual orientation?
SUICIDE AND MURDER
Sometimes, what you have to watch out for is a tendency or a possibility that a loved one would commit murder. If that is likely, then suicide may also follow. Unfortunately, this kind of tragedy happens all too often. The amount of suffering it causes is immeasurable. But it can be avoided if people are taught how to learn to deal with rejection and failure. When a person has not developed coping skills and life deals them a bad blow, sometimes things can take a turn for the worst. When people can’t handle it and when they are left to their own devices, tragedy usually follows. Everyone needs help at some point in their life. Some of the major problems that can lead to suicide are as follows:
• Relationship problems, such as extramarital affairs, sexual abuse, and control and jealousy issues.
• Financial problems, such as bankruptcy, unexpected increase in rent, or finding out that you have lost a large amount of money in your investment.
• Legal issues, such as learning you may have inadvertently committed a crime or being sued by someone else.
It is a sad fact that there are also certain types of prescription drugs that count depression as a potential side effect. If you or a loved one have no other option but to take this type of medication, you should be extra vigilant about any unusual actions, behavior or thoughts.
Make sure to inform a friend or family member if you are taking any medication that may alter your personality. Someone on the outside looking in, so to speak, could recognize the signs that something isn’t right before you do.
Below are some important strategies you can use to help yourself, a friend, or a family member. It barely touches on the subject, so I would encourage people to research the subject further through the internet, books and self-help groups. Remember, knowledge is power!
• Do nothing now. You may be in a lot of pain, but try to distance yourself from your thoughts and your actions. Being depressed and thinking about suicide is completely different from actually doing it. It’s the depression and stress that makes you think in a way that you normally wouldn’t. Give yourself a chance. Tell yourself you’ll give it another day or even a week, just to give yourself a chance to think instead of act.
• If you take drugs and/or alcohol, suicidal thoughts can become even stronger. These substances will change your natural way of thinking. I have no doubt that many people took their own lives under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol only increase the problems that people face. The world is a completely different place when you are sober. Reality can be hard at times, but it’s the only reality we have. And we can live in this reality if we give ourselves a chance. There are ways to deal with and overcome our problems.
• Identify situations that trigger feelings of despair or that generate suicidal thoughts. It could be the upcoming anniversary of the loss of a loved one, consumption of excessive alcohol or drugs, and the stress of a breakup from a relationship or struggle with sexual identity. There are of course many other reasons, but the most important thing is to become aware of what triggers you. Just being honest with yourself can lift a huge weight off your shoulders and help you avoid these triggers in the future.
• The nature of feeling depressed or suicidal means that a person wants to isolate themselves from society and everyone around them. Because of this fact, it can make things difficult to make a recovery, but this is not true. Even if you don’t want or feel like talking to people you know, there are crisis helplines that people can use to talk about their feelings. Remember, we are social creatures, and it’s never a good idea to try it alone.
• Try to build a support network for yourself. Have phone numbers handy in case you ever need them. Always have one just a phone call away. It could be your GP, a friend, a family member or a crisis line. When all else fails, a crisis line can be your salvation. Remember, you are never truly alone because crisis lines are there 24/7. The people who volunteer their services wouldn’t be on the other end of the line if they didn’t care. People care about other people, so you are not alone.
• Take care of yourself. What you eat and drink and how much fresh air and exercise you get is very important. I can tell you that fresh air and just going for a short walk (which is free by the way) goes a long way. Even just basic deep breathing exercises can put you in a different mindset. • It is important to remember that nothing ever stays the same. I understand that this may seem difficult to accept when you are feeling depressed or suicidal, but it is true. When life hits us hard, it takes time to recover. After all, we are only human. We have to give ourselves a chance. One small step at a time is the key to achieving anything big. Taking too much too soon is never a good idea. When a young child first begins to learn to walk, it falls over many times. But no matter how many times the child falls, it stays up until it learns to stand on its own two feet. Life does the same as we get older, but remember, it never stays the same as long as we pick ourselves up and keep going. No matter how many times it takes!
Copyright Piaras O Cionnaoith 2013.
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