This article mentions suicide so read it with care. It has details on how to find help and support.
Suicidal thoughts are common, and many people at some point in their lifetime think about suicide.
Feelings of Suicide can be frightening and confusing and rather difficult to make sense of. First, they can go from having general thoughts of not wanting to be here, to making plans about how and when to do it.
You might feel more of wanting to stop the pain instead of wanting to die.
Because suicide is complex, there is no one single way to explain why people die by suicide. However, we know the figures show that in young people Suicide is the leading cause of death. And it is also the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally. University students are more likely to fall under these 2 groups of people mentioned above. To read more about suicide on campus read this blog.
Myths about Suicide
Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition
Not all people who contemplate suicide have a mental health illness. Suicidal thoughts are often a good indicator that they may be experiencing psychological distress e.g relationship problems, loss, persecution, bullying, rejection, sexual abuse etc.
Suicides happen suddenly without warning signs
Very often verbal or behavioral warning signs come before. That’s why learning to understand these signs is vital. Some may only show these signs to those closest to them.
People who talk about suicide never commit suicide – this is False. Statements for example “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born” can be warning signs. Ignoring these may increase the risk.
Suicide is unpreventable
There are many interventions and seeking help at the right time can save lives. Therapy is effective. Know the signs to look out for. Simple strategies like barriers to bridges, safe firearm storage, and reducing access to lethal methods can be effective.
Asking if they are suicidal could give them an idea to commit suicide. Talking about suicide is helpful and reduces the stigma allowing people to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their stories with others. We all need to talk more about suicide.
People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
Most who die by suicide just want to end their suffering. It’s not that they don’t want to live. Often the suffering they experience is so deep leading to helplessness and hopelessness. It’s not that they are simply, “thinking of themselves,” but rather are going through a very tough period psychologically.
Once a suicide risk, always a suicide risk – This is False becauseactive suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation-specific.
Suicide is an act of weakness
Would you say that dying from heart disease or cancer is an act of weakness? Are those who die from heart disease weak? This is just the stigma.
The admission of suicidal thoughts will mean being sectioned
You can’t be sectioned for just disclosing these thoughts. There is a procedure to be followed, the risk will be assessed to be high (with plans). And all clinicians must agree independently. The rationale for sectioning is to ensure you are safe and alive. That’s why there is a right of appeal to see if the procedure was followed correctly.
SIGNS OF SUICIDE
- Talking about suicide.
- Making statements about feeling trapped, hopeless, helpless, and worthless.
- Becoming preoccupied with and talking about death.
- Suddenly appearing happier and calmer.
- Anhedonia – Lack of pleasure and interest in things one cares about.
- Suddenly visiting or calling people one cares about – saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
- Making plans and arrangements and giving their things away when there is no other logical explanation.
- Getting access to the means to do it for example stockpiling pills
- Withdrawing from social contact especially if they were an outgoing person
- Having fluctuating moods, for example, they’re emotionally high one day and then deeply discouraged the next day.
- The increased use of alcohol or drugs.
- A Sudden change in routine, for example, eating or sleeping patterns.
- Engaging in risky and self-destructive behaviors. For example, reckless driving, risky sexual behaviors
- Personality changes such as becoming very anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above.
FACTORS CONSIDERED WHEN ASSESSING SUICIDE RISK
Many other factors should be assessed including:
How impulsive is the individual?
Do they feel they have sufficient support much support?
If they drink alcohol or use drugs -How much do they drink alcohol or drugs, especially at times of stress?
Do they feel very angry at times?
Do they have access the means or method?
When do they feel most vulnerable? Are any such times likely to happen at present?
Ambivalence – People have both a will to live and a will to die to end suffering. This means the relevant question is not “is the person suicidal? But “how suicidal is the person?”
Remember the act of suicide is usually an attempt to control very painful emotions and thoughts being experienced. Once the painful emotions disappear, the suicidal ideation will disappear too. Suicidal thoughts aren’t permanent although they can return. Those experiencing suicidal thoughts can lead a long and successful life.
Many of us have had thoughts about “ending it all,” even if for a fleeting moment when life is not going well. It can be a frightening experience thinking about suicide causing anxiety. If unresolved, the anxiety may lead to avoidance and demeaning behaviors towards the one caring for them. Therefore, to be effective, if you are looking after a loved one, it helps if you are aware of your own feelings and beliefs about suicide.
If you are contemplating suicide
Remember there is a lot of support available. Because of the pain, you are experiencing, the mind tricks you into thinking that suicide is the best way out of the pain, but IT IS NOT. Give yourself a chance and try all the interventions available, the different types of therapy, and medications, and you will find one which is helpful. Unfortunately, to get to it, you will have to try different ones – that’s usually how it also works. Remember in most cases the thoughts are not permanent and with time they ease.
Speaking to your GP is a good start.
Click Here to Enter your postcode to find the nearest support
If you are at immediate risk call 116-123 / 999
Samaritans If worried about a loved one, my next blog shares TIPS on how to best support them