Preventing Suicides: Encouraging Help Seeking
News from around us abounds with stories of how increasing number of individuals attempt suicide or have committed suicide. This is becoming a glaring concern within the society and it is most certainly enhancing the levels of anxiety for a large population of people. The fear that a loved one, a child, a friend, or a relative may think of ending their own life can be a fiercely strong fear inducing thought.
The statistics which pertain to the problem of suicides tell a similar story which only serves to enhance our sense of distress. A closer look at the problem of suicides has revealed:
- Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the world.
- The rates of suicide among adolescents have quadrupled in the last decade.
- 90% of those who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental health related disorder which has not been treated.
- 75% of those with an untreated mental health disorder who commit suicide have depression.
Suicide is Preventable:
A large proportion of individuals who do commit suicide can be prevented from doing so. Large scale studies and researches have consistently demonstrated that 90% of those who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental health related condition which has not been treated.
It is essential to understand that a suicide does not occur in a moment of impulse. There is usually a build up towards the development of the problem till the individual reaches a stage where he feels nothing will help and engages in a suicidal act. Typically there are signs that can indicate that the individual may be contemplating committing suicide. These can include the following:
- Excessive helplessness.
- Feeling hopeless about the future.
- Previous acts of self-harm.
- Talking about there being no point in living.
- Searching about methods of self-harm.
- Accumulating lethal weapons or things.
- Increased fascination with themes of death and dying.
- Sense of purposelessness in life.
- Giving away belongings.
- Leaving notes for people.
What You Can Do:
Our premise is that suicide does not happen in a moment of impulse and that this is preventable and may be precipitated by the presence of a previously undiagnosed and untreated mental health related problem. Given this premise there are undoubtedly things which you as individuals associated with someone who may be contemplating self-harm and suicide can do. The most important aspect is to encourage the individual to seek help. There is undeniable significance of the fact that if professional help is sought in a timely manner an impending suicide can be prevented.
It is not just the provision of medical intervention in the form of medications by a psychiatrist which is important. There is also significant relevance of getting the individual to be in therapy simultaneously to ensure that he or she begins to share their thoughts and concerns. There needs to be an active engagement with the suicidal individuals’ thoughts and feelings and proactive strategies need to be created in order to deal with the same.
Besides ensuring that the individual receives interventions and help from professionals it would be your role to ensure that the individual is not left unsupervised. Furthermore, it would be important that your support to the individual be made explicitly clear and that you make yourself available to listen to the individual. At the same time, reassure them that giving medical treatment some time will ensure that he or she is able to overcome the negative thoughts and feelings. At the same time, therapy would be able to help the individual make in-roads where they feel stuck and also enable them to start working on their thinking patterns and coping strategies so that they are able to overcome the feeling of suicidality.
Suicides are undoubtedly an ever-increasing problem which needs active intervention not just by professionals but also by those who surround them. Giving a suicidal individual the support and pushing him to seek help are irreplaceable first steps in averting a suicide from occurring.