Suicide is committed out of a sense of hopelessness, desperation, and a feeling of pessimism. When people are chronically depressed, and they feel overwhelmed by their life circumstances, they contemplate suicide. Suicide has become a widespread problem in United States and needs to be addressed. Every minute someone in the United States attempts suicide, and every 15 minutes someone succeeds in that attempt. It is important to understand the dynamics of suicide so that you can help the person who has suicidal tendencies.
Suicide affects the entire family. It has been found that there are three major factors underlying suicide:
Tendency to commit suicide can be inherited from the family. Also, medical research has found that low levels of serotonin activity in the brain can also be a contributing factor. Above all, there could be multiple factors contributing to the thought of suicide. Some of these factors could be having terminal illness, losing financial stability, loss of a loved one, and loss of employment. Having faced with these challenges, the person begins to see future as completely hopeless and believes that terminating life is the only solution to overcome the problems. Guilt may also be the root cause of suicide. It has been found that exposure to a severe trauma can also be responsible for suicidal tendencies. Furthermore, if the person does not know how to handle aggression and violence, it can also lead to suicidal tendencies.
Following are the warning signs of Suicide, according to Dr. Murli Krishna, President of the James L. Hall Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit.
*Talking about suicide
*Statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness.
*Preoccupation with death
*Loss of interest in things one cares about
*Visiting or calling people one cares about
*Setting ones affairs in order
*Giving things away
*Risk taking or self-destructive behavior
There are certain things you can do if you come across someone who exhibits these warning signs.
- Listen attentively and empathize with the person by reflection of feelings and using “I” statements. Lecturing and demanding attitude can backfire. It might be helpful to offer time to listen to the person so that he or she gets a listening partner and feels relieved. When you talk to the person, show how much you understand their pain and try to help the person focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Depressed people have a pessimistic outlook and they tend to overlook the positive aspects of the situation. By giving them awareness of their self defeating thought patterns, you might facilitate a new perspective and a reality oriented insight in the person who is contemplating suicide.
- Help Find Alternatives: When a person gives up and feels dejected, he or she loses the capacity to focus on the healthy options and solutions to the problems. It might be helpful to make the person see alternatives that might help the person solve his or her problem. By redirecting thoughts into positive action and a focus on the solutions, the person could begin to consider healthy options versus committing suicide.
- Buy Time: Suicide is generally an impulsive act when the person loses his or her reasoning capacity in a crisis. As a support person, try to help the person see that suicide is not the solution to the problem and encourage the person not to make decisions which are impulsive and which do not address the problem at hand.
- Get Assistance From Others: When a person is suicidal he or she becomes very isolated and withdrawn. As a support person, try to seek help from someone else close to the person like spouse, friend or a caring employer. If you feel that the problem is getting out of hand and the person is determined, call 911, a suicide hotline, a hospital emergency room or a mental health center. In any case, do not leave the person alone.
- Offer To Link the Person With Professional Help: It is important to make the person feel that you care and are willing to help the person by calling his or her family physician, psychiatrist or mental health therapist. In the absence of professional help, the person might act out on suicidal tendencies.
- Encourage The Person to Take Resort in Spirituality: Depression gets more and more severe in the absence of spiritual faith. People feel despondent and indulge in self blame. They lose their hope and believe that miseries will never end. Sometimes, seeking help from one’s local church services and get counseling from the pastor or clergyman could instill a ray of hope in the person and thus prevent the act of suicide.
- Give hope, share books and ideas regarding positive thinking. There are multiple self help books written by motivational authors which can be instrumental in preventing suicide.
- Help the person gain a new perspective on life by letting him or know that life should not be ended by us as a conscious choice and that it is in the hands of the Higher Power to take life away.
- Encourage the person to join the support group for depression and also encourage them to engage in productive and self nurturing activities. Encourage them to join a gym, practice meditation and relaxation for stress management and most of all work on their negative thought patterns which are generally negative and self defeating. To find inner peace, one has to reframe these thought patterns and replace them with affirmations which convey hope and positive messages. It will also be helpful to offer help if the person is stressed out and has lost a loved one.
It is important to make the person feel that the crisis is temporary and he or she is not alone.
Thus by educating yourself, you are better able to act when you come across a suicidal person. Generally speaking, suicide is somewhat a taboo topic but it does not help the situation in the long run. It is very important to understand the issue and have the willingness to share the information in order to save lives of people who have suicidal tendencies.