Suicide is one of the public health concerns policymakers and professional caregivers face in the present world. About 8 lakh people are victims of suicide every year worldwide. In India, 1,64,033 people committed suicide in the year 2021. Our national suicide rate was 12, the highest since 1967. Suicide is a tragic incident but is preventable if we know the warning signs for suicide and how to help someone in need.
What is Suicide?
Suicide is a tendency of self-harm with a motive to end life, ultimately leading to death. A suicide attempt is one when people self-harm themselves but do not die.
What are the warning signs of suicide?
A person thinking of attempting suicide may give us some warning signs that we should be able to catch immediately. Some of these warning signs are:
- Talking about taking self-life
- A loss of interest in living
- Feeling empty or hopeless
- Absence of any desire or motivation to live
- A feeling of getting entrapped in a situation that has no solution
- Feeling unbearable physical or emotional pain
- Thinking about self as a burden to others
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Making a will
- Taking life-threatening risks such as fast and rash driving
- Talking about death regularly
- Extreme mood swings, from very sad to very happy
- Looking for different methods to kill themselves, these can be:
- An online search for lethal ways to kill
- Stockpiling of dangerous pills
- Discussing guilt or feeling shame
- Increasing alcohol consumption
- Using illicit drugs
- Always being anxious or agitated
- Changed eating habits
- Either no sleep or excessive sleep
- A continuous display of anger or talking about taking revenge
- People giving signs of extreme distress
If you see these warning signs in you or someone closer to you, take the corrective steps immediately.
How can we help someone who is at risk of attempting suicide?
There are five basic principles for helping someone who is thinking about self-harm. They are
- Keep Them Safe
- Be There
- Help Them Connect
- Stay Connected
Asking the people who are thinking of attempting suicide is not easy. But, according to some studies, asking people at risk about suicidal thoughts can decrease the risk of suicide.
Keep them safe:
Always try to keep people with suicidal thoughts away from the lethal items. It can make a significant difference.
People with suicidal thoughts grappled with a feeling of loneliness. Emotional support to these people may reduce suicidal thoughts. Try to listen to their problems carefully and let them vent their feelings.
Help them connect:
Save the Suicide helpline number 9152987821 on your phone. These professional counselors can help during an emotional breakdown of an individual.
Always try to be connected with the person who needs your help. According to various studies, the chances of suicide significantly decrease when you are in close contact with an at-risk person.
Suicidal thoughts see no caste, creed, gender, or age. People can think of attempting suicide due to various reasons. Some risk factors that can lead to the emergence of suicidal thoughts are:
- Mental disorders
- Substance abuse
- Chronic pain
- History of suicidal attempts
- History of suicide in the family
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Criminal history
- Stressful events like the loss of a near and dear one, financial loss, loss of a job, or legal troubles
How do we identify people who are at risk for suicide?
Friends and family are commonly the first to recognize whether a person is dealing with suicidal thoughts. So be ready ta take the step if your near and dear one is dealing with such an emotional phase. You can connect with the national suicide helpline if unsure how to deal with the situation.
What can I do if someone in the family is dealing with suicidal thoughts?
Steps you can take if your loved one is dealing with such a situation are:
Work on a plan to restrict access to lethal means like pills, poisons, or firearms.
Your continued interaction with the at-risk person can make a difference.
Psychotherapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help individuals who are dealing with suicidal thoughts, thus preventing someone from attempting suicide.
Remember, suicide is preventable. We just need to extend our support to the people dealing with such emotions.