EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUICIDE

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September is suicide prevention awareness month worldwide.

In July this year, Kenyans were left mouth agape after news arose about the suicide rates in the country.

It was reported that within three months, 483 people had committed suicide with Kiambu county topping the list.

Within the same period, it was reported that there were about 409 cases of life-threatening assaults mostly among couples.

The oldest person said to have committed suicide was 76 years old and the youngest was a 9-year old who did not leave any note behind.

Suicidal cases have been on the rise recently. And suicide is currently listed as the tenth leading cause of death worldwide.

Usually more men than women commit suicide. Maybe because men may be less likely to admit when they feel vulnerable, whether to themselves, friends, or a professional. They also can be more reticent than women to see a doctor. It’s not that men don’t have the same issues as women – but they’re a little less likely to know they have whatever stresses or mental health conditions that are putting them at greater risk for suicide.

So it’s only noble that we have this discussion. I had posted this information last year but just in case you missed it, have a read.

Warning signs of suicide

Here are a few signs of suicide that you should lookout for. Because suicidal people always show signs

  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Sadness and hopelessness.
  • Saying that nobody cares about them.
  • Behaving in a reckless manner eg reckless driving, too much indulgence in alcohol drinking and substance use.
  • Struggling to do things they previously enjoyed.
  • Expresses wanting to die by speaking or writing.
  • Sudden social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Physical changes eg loss of appetite or weight, change in sleep patterns, fatigueLoss of self-esteem.
  • Saying they don’t see a way out of their current situation.
  • Depression

Causes

There are various reasons why an individual would make a decision to commit suicide. The most common reason is severe depression. You see depression makes a person feel completely hopeless as they go through emotional pain. The person is unable to see any other way out other than ending their own lives.

Other causes include:

  • Some mental illnesses can increase the risk of suicide. Such as eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc
  • Substance use– alcohol and drugs can influence a suicidal person to act upon their thoughts.
  • Hopelessness– it is easy for someone who has lost hope completely to see suicide as a reasonable option.
  • Traumatic experiences– people who have experienced circumstances such as rape, war trauma, physical abuse, and childhood sexual abuse may be at a greater risk of committing suicide.
  • Loss- someone may opt to commit suicide when dealing with loss or the fear of loss. Such losses may include- job loss, loss of social status, loss of friends, failing academically, loss of freedom due to imprisonment, loss of finances, loss of family for instance, when you reveal your sexual orientation, cyberbullying.
  • Terminal illnesses– some health conditions are associated with a higher risk of suicide. Such diabetes, asthma, cancer, brain injuries, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, etc

Other people commit suicide as a cry for help. Not because they really want to die, but they just don’t know how to seek for help.

Why suicidal people don’t reach out

Have someone close to you committed suicide and you were left wondering why they did not talk to you about it? Sometimes it could be because:

  • They are obviously ashamed of their struggle.
  • Afraid of being dismissed and judged.
  • They don’t wanna be called attention seekers.
  • Feel unworthy of support.
  • Strive to align with others’ perceptions of them.
  • They are worried they will be criticized for how they are handling things.
  • They feel unworthy of support and scared that they may not communicate their thoughts and feelings. Among other reasons.

Ways of committing suicide

There are various ways through which suicidal people use to commit suicide. But worldwide, three suicide methods predominate with the pattern varying in different countries. These are hanging, poisoning by pesticides, and firearms. Other common suicide methods include jumping from a great height, drug overdoses, and drowning.

How to help suicidal people

Sometimes even when these suicidal people come to us we are not able to help them. You don’t need to be a professional counselor or therapist to handle such a person. It is as easy as:

  • Don’t judge them– if you judge the person, you will discourage them from opening up again and probably intensify their suicidal thoughts.Be patient with them even when they are not able to find the right words to express how they feel.
  • Listen– it is important that the person feel seen and heard. Listen to understand. It will make them feel less alone.
  • Ensure their safety– ensure that such a person is in a safe environment. Remove any dangers.
  • Do not try to solve their problems – do not go straight to problem-solving if you do not understand them. You may discourage the person from reaching out.
  • Do not force conversation– let the person initiate the conversation. Sometimes just be there, showing them that they are not a lot.
  • Empower and reassure them– remind the person that he or she is not a burden. Remind them of their strengths and accomplishments.
  • Encourage the person to seek professional help– gently urge them to seek therapy and even offer to go with them.

You see the more aware we are of the warning signs listed above, the easier we shall be able to notice them and be quick to offer support. So instead of dismissing the person, stigmatizing or ignoring them please take them seriously. Any more information about the same please comment below.

By Wanjiru Mbaru

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