September is the suicide prevention awareness month. So there’s no way we would just let the month end without a little discussion on suicide.
Suicide is a real thing. And it is very unfortunate that people we know still commit suicide every now and then. Could be because we are lacking in knowledge on how to handle them, or because we were not aware they were suicidal.
So let us explore a few warning signs that someone could be suicidal.
Warning signs of suicide
A suicidal person usually shows signs that something is wrong. Look out for;
- 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, fatigue
- Loss of self-esteem.
- Saying they don’t see a way out of their current situation.
These are a few of other signs you need to look out for if you think that someone you know is suicidal.
Causes of suicide
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.
Have someone close to you committed suicide and you were left wondering why they did not talk to you about it?
Why suicidal people don’t reach out
- 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
How to help
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.
This whole article feels like some lecture notes. But it would be so heartbreaking to see a friend, family, or your favorite celebrity commit suicide when you could have been of help. That is why this article is here, to act as a reminder. Let us make time to check on each other regularly and take people’s struggles seriously.
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.
Instead of dismissing the person, stigmatizing or ignoring them please take them seriously.
Any other additional points around the suicide discussion are allowed in the comments section.