According to the WHO, on an average, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds.
Suicide is a complex phenomenon and not an illness in and of itself. Suicidal ideas and attempts are important to look for and evaluate. Unquestionably it is hard to predict who will attempt suicide but, it is possible to characterize the risk aspects keeping in mind that it is a risk and not an absolute prediction.
Some of the common predictors of suicide are persons undergoing extreme/ acute emotional distress of any cause. This could be symptoms of depression or other psychiatric disorders, there could be acute changes in interpersonal relational status, any acute loss/ change in financial status. This is the one characteristic that is most obvious to outside observers who could be friends, family or well wishers of the individual. This is a time when all those who care for the person suffering could express their support by “Just being there”.
Hopelessness as a thought characteristic is significantly associated with suicide. This is basically a sense of there being no future for the person. This could occur in the context of again life stresses such as a breakup, financial losses. Persons experiencing hopelessness may appear listless, not interested in looking towards the future – even towards the immediate future – not wanting to go out, dejected and saying as much.
Substance abuse whether alcohol or other drugs especially increases the risk of suicide in individuals. It has the ability to impair a persons world view and make things appear more bleak than they are.
There are other risk factors that are associated with suicide attempts including a prior history of suicide attempts or self injurious behaviors, family history of suicide, exposure to suicide in a family member or significant person, and exposure to physical or sexual abuse. These factors may increase the possibility that the person experiencing distress currently is at a higher risk of harming self.
So, what can any other person do to help their loved one?
Families and friends are scared of hearing the word suicidal in the context of their loved ones. Rather than jumping to conclusion that they need to be taken to a psychiatrist/ counsellor, the easiest thing that can be done is to be there for the person in distress. This would involve just being present, letting them know that you are there to help if they need and most importantly there is someone if they want to talk.
The sense of having someone nearby who cares for them has a significantly soothing effect on individuals.
A patient, non-judgmental hearing of the persons woes before asking the question “How can I help?” will also go a long way in helping persons put their current problems in perspective. This would enable them making better choices in the form of not harming themselves. Finally before closing, it would be helpful to finish with a sense of hope in the form of saying something like “If there are problems, then there must be solutions and we can find them together”.
-Dr. Shiva Prakash
Note from the LonePack Team:
People who’re going through a tough time find it difficult to ask for help. It could be anyone from our silent classmate, to the girl we sit next to on the bus.
Can we help show our peers that the world is not devoid of hope anymore?
So reach out to them, and write them a message. LonePack will publish them all on their Facebook “Wall Of Positivity” on Sept. 10th, which marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
Send in your message and share to keep the chain of positivity going. Do join us in spreading some joy and showing some support to the people who need it.
So, tell me, did you spread some positivity today?
-The LonePack Team
Image Credits: flickr.com