what comes to your mind when we talk about suicide? the act of cowardice or a man who ended up because of his poor mental resistance or you feel pity?
why does someone have to die to let us understand that suicide is not a topic that should be discussed in a hush-hush manner? Why is it so hard to accept “that it’s okay not to be okay?
Have you browsed through the internet to know what exactly can you do to stop your friend, cousins, parents, siblings, or anyone you know from committing suicide? An answer might strike your mind; to talk to them.
I am afraid to tell you that it is a part of the answer but not the whole answer. In this article, you will get to know about the signs and causes of suicidal tendencies, and how you can talk to put them on ease. you might be surprised to know that every suicidal person shows some signs.
The very first step you can do as a responsible citizen and a caring person to know the signs.
So how can we know if anyone is suicidal?
Here are those subtle signs. Remember these are only clues, not all suicidal people will show them. So here we go:
1. Talking about suicide.
Have you come across questions like what do you think about suicide? What are the possible ways of suicide? How would you kill yourself? Who will care if I am gone?
People who ask these kinds of questions generally asking for your opinion about suicide, or in a way you can say shouting for help. Please try to talk to these people, they are going through a lot that they think suicide is the only way out.
2. Giving away prized possessions.
This is very odd for anyone giving away the valuable and expensive things that they may need. In their mind, they think they don’t need these material possessions. They try to help their loved ones, friends, and their families after their death.
3. Obtaining a weapon.
Check out for this very obvious sign, if paired with other signs,this can be very dangerous.
4. Strange sleeping pattern
That’s because of the stress and thought from one’s personal problem which keeps them having a proper night sleep. It’s also a symptom of depression according to DSM-V criteria.
5. Low energy:
People, who show suicidal behavior, lack the energy to even get out of bed and do their normal day-to-day stuff. The lack of energy is because of the lack of sleep, and little motivation (from within) to do things they have once loved.
6. Drug and alcohol abuse
As we all know, drug and alcohol kick in when we don’t feel connected to the people around us.
7. The low motivation for social life
They start cutting themselves from their family, friends, close circle; thinking that their company is annoying or troublesome. They feel like a burden, and the more a person isolates the more likely is that they will end up taking their life.
8. Not participating in the activities they love.
Cutting, burning, and poisoning are the most common type of self-harm. Some say the physical pain helps them to endure the reckless emotional trauma that they are going through.
10. Emotional outburst
You might notice, people reacting with grief, rage, downcast, revengeful out of the blue. You might wonder why it is like that. Well in the conversation there might be some words regarding their emotional struggle, so they respond that way.
11. Body language
Slumped shoulders, eyes fixed at the floor, unwilling to eye contact. These are indications of sadness, but when paired up with other listed signs of suicidal behaviour it can be helpful.
12. Past suicide attempts
Most of the suicide attempts fail. This is a fact. And a person cannot get over depression or suicidal tendencies on its own and it can never happen overnight. So a person with a record of previous suicidal attempts might still be suicidal. This is one of the most alarming signs which we must not ignore.
What are the causes of suicidal thoughts?
Suicidal thoughts are thinking about implanting a suicide attempt. Men are four times more likely to carry out a suicide attempt, while women more often have suicidal ideation. The following are the causes of suicidal thoughts:
1. Chronic illness:
Depending on the severity of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, asthma, alcohol and smoking-related diseases, diabetes, etc, people may decide suicide as the only way of relief of physical mental anguish they are going through. However financial crunches are also one of the causes of suicide in these situations. Though most of the private hospitals have psychologists working to keep the patient’s mental health. But no government hospitals have a psychologist as their staff.
2. Psychiatric or mood disorders:
When a person is suffering from depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, seasonal disorder; suicidal ideation is very common. In schizophrenia, they have hallucinations and cannot differentiate between what’s real and what’s not, hence suicidal ideations are at the highest rates in schizophrenia than any other psychiatric disorder
3. Trauma and abuse:
Sexual or physical or emotional abuse affects an individual adversely. The consequences of past abuse depend on the severity and frequency of abuse. Sometimes the trauma is unbearable and suicide seems an easy option for the survivor. It is also a symptom of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
4. Domestic violence:
Living with fear, uncertainty, and anger in my own home which was supposed to be safe and sound. The physical bruises might be concealed but how to cope up with the emotional bruises. In their mind, their partner would kill them then why don’t they have the right to kill themselves? (I am not justifying this feeling but trying to express intricate thoughts in their mind).
5. Relationship Problems:
Problems in a relationship or breaking up from relationship; results in emotional and mental anguish. People who had many short term relationships (remember Kaira from Dear Zindagi) may become overwhelmed; feelings of worthlessness, emptiness may contribute to suicidal thoughts.
6. Survivors guilt:
A person who survived from any natural or manmade disaster, or have witnessed murders, often find it difficult to forgive themselves and start feeling guilty and end up giving up on life.
When you lack money you don’t have the basic resources in your life. People below the poverty line couldn’t even reach out to doctors and often die untreated. The situations in which they live in, cause anxiety and depression since they couldn’t go to professionals they commit suicide in despair. Stories of suicide caused due to poverty are ripping and agonizing.
8. Family History of suicide:
A person with a family history of suicide accepts that suicide is a fair enough way of dealing with problems.
9. Alcohol or drug addiction.
Alcohol and drugs disturb the natural balance of neurotransmitters. When alcohol is consumed the mad of dopamine is released making a person feel high, and then makes them feel down because the body is no more releasing dopamine. Most addicts feel anxious when they wake up the next day after a hangover. They keep searching for the next high because the lows are intolerable.
Unfortunately, the stigma that surrounds mental health and mental illness lock out the chances of a person may seek professional help. Afraid of the judgment by society, a person avoids asking for help even from his friends and family members. The longer a person has locked away the more suicidal thoughts they cultivate and ultimately the dismal news hit the headlines.
How to approach someone with suicidal thoughts?
If you know someone who is suicidal, he/she may need immediate help, and I am glad to meet individuals like you who want to help them. Well, it is not a cakewalk to talk to a suicidal person you have to be gentle, firm, understanding all at the same time. Things become easy if you are close to them or they trust you. They may try to cut you off but remember the more they stay alone, the more are the chances that they may end giving up. So if you have seen any suicidal post, or someone directly told you that they are thinking of suicide, you can help them in the following way:
1. Don’t ask too many questions:
Don’t be afraid to ask straight forward questions like – are you thinking of suicide? Are you hurting yourself? How are you dealing with all these? Do you have access to weapons?
By asking these questions you are trying to channelize your communication and giving them an opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings of guilt, grief, regret. This might help them in becoming little light weighed in the heart.
2. Be empathetic
Don’t give them false hope, or crack jokes, or take them lightly because these things make them feel more unwanted and lonely, as a result, they might get firmer on their decisions. Don’t try to relate to them, even if you had suicidal tendencies, because you don’t know how it feels to them, no two persons could have the same experience and same thoughts. But try to listen to them and understand their circumstances.
3. Take away weapons like a razor, gun drugs.
As the most common methods of suicide are firearms, self-poisoning and hanging. If possible you need to take away these things from their house. This way you are ensuring their safety in your absence.
4. Encourage them to see a professional.
First don’t promise them that you will keep their thoughts a secret between you two, make them understand that you have to talk to their close friends or parents if needed. Encourage them to see a professional. Let them know that by encouraging them to see a professional you are not going to drop him/her like a hot potato and walk away. Remember you are not a professional, you may not have all resources and skills to help them.
In India, the helpline number to talk to a counsellor when you feel depressed is: 091529 87821
Hours: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday to Saturday
Languages: English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu.
Remember suicide is that war where everyone is at the risk of dying and anyone can help the other person from attempting suicide. We cannot just leave a person with suicidal tendencies to die. We all have to play a significant role to prevent the rates of suicide rising. Moreover, we cannot let another person die to show our concerns. There was a catching line in 13 Reasons why? “Some of you cared, none of you cared enough”. This line explains what the person might be going through.
I understand it will take efforts to stop anyone from committing suicide. By knowing who is suicidal, who might be at risk, and how to help them we have taken the first few steps and I see no reasons why one must not even try to help. Together we can bring a change. And this change will be a valuable one. Take care of yourself and others surrounding you.