News and Media Blogs Suicide - what to look out for and how to respond According to government data, 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone about their plans, or give some other type of warning signs. It is estimated that someone dies, around the world, from suicide, every thirteen minutes. It averages out as the 10th leading cause of death overall. Between 10 & 24 years of age it is the second most recognised cause of death. More than 1.5 million people die every year, across the globe, from preventable suicides. We can be the catalyst for this number dropping dramatically; if we are simply willing to open our eyes, our hearts and follow the information in this article to some degree. Throughout history, suicide has been both condemned and condoned by various societies. It is generally condemned by Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and suicide attempts are punishable by law in many countries. That said, there is now a greater readiness to understand rather than to condemn suicide, but a tendency to conceal suicidal acts still persists. A fatal suicide tends to cause grief and guilt for those who may feel that they could have prevented it by caring and loving more than they did. If the act is nonfatal, it can serve as an appeal for help and may give rise to efforts to make amends.A number of theories have been developed to explain the causes of suicide. Psychological theories emphasize personality and emotional factors. No single approach can be expected to succeed in substantially reducing the incidence of suicide, but early recognition and treatment of mental disorders is an important deterrent. Some Suicide Warning Signs Have you ever heard someone say two or more of the following?“Life isn’t worth living.”“My family (or friends or girlfriend/boyfriend) would be better off without me.”“Next time I’ll take enough pills to do the job right.”“Take my prized collection or valuables - I don’t need this stuff anymore.”“Don’t worry; I won’t be around to deal with that.”“You’ll be sorry when I’m gone.”“I won’t be in your way much longer.”“I just can’t deal with everything - life’s too hard.”“I won’t be a burden much longer.”“Nobody understands me - nobody feels the way I do.”“There’s nothing I can do to make it better.”“I’d be better off dead.”“I feel like there is no way out.”“You’d be better off without me.” Common signs of depression include: Depressed or sad mood (e.g., feeling “blue” or “down in the dumps”).A change in the person’s sleeping patterns (e.g., sleeping too much or too little).A significant change in the person’s weight or appetite.Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness.Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities (e.g., hobbies, outdoor activities).Withdrawal from family and friends.Fatigue or loss of energy.Diminished ability to think or concentrate; slowed thinking or indecisiveness.Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or guilt.Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead. How to Help Someone Who Is Thinking About Committing Suicide If you have reason to believe that someone you know is contemplating suicide, you should help that person to get help immediately. Try to understand the principle behind suicide prevention. Work on offering or strengthening protective factors such as clinical treatment, family and community support, support from healthcare professionals and the development of problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Show that you care. Help to combat feelings of isolation and try to help the person at risk with connectedness to family, friends and the community. A suicidal person needs to have a sense of belonging to choose continued life so you should show the person that they are important to you and to others. Also, think of ways that you can provide support or relief from stress. Engage the individual. Show enthusiasm about their interests. Research the person’s interests so that you can converse with them on the same level with an understanding of what interests them. The main goal here is to show that you care enough about the person to take their interests and recommendations seriously. Ask questions that lead them to share their interests openly with you.Help them to feel useful. Try to make the person feel useful or relieve some of their burden. Show interest and ask questions you believe they have the answer to, for example - if you were talking to a chef you might choose to ask how to make a certain meal – engagement here is key. Prepare to talk to someone about suicide. After educating yourself about suicide and re-emphasizing your relationship with the suicidal person, prepare to talk to them. Set up a comfortable environment in a non-threatening place to have a conversation about your concerns. Do not be afraid to talk about suicide. Some cultures or families treat suicide as a taboo and avoid talking about it. You may also be afraid that if you talk to someone about suicide, you will prompt them to act on their suicidal thoughts. These factors or others may lead you to hesitate to speak openly about suicide. However, you should fight this instinct because the opposite is actually true; speaking openly about suicide often prompts someone in crisis to think about and reconsider their choices. Be open. Offer non-judgmental, non-accusatory support and listen with an open mind that invites closeness. You do not want your conversation to build a barrier between you; avoid this by showing that you are open and you care. It is easy to become frustrated when speaking to someone in crisis who isn’t thinking clearly, so remind yourself to remain calm and supportive. The best way to be open is to not have any prepared responses for the person in crisis. Ask a few open questions like “how are you feeling?” or “what is upsetting you” and let them speak. Do not try to argue with them or convince them that things aren’t really that bad. Allow for silence. After you have started the conversation, the person may respond with silence at first. It’s likely that they are shocked that you “read their mind,” or surprised that they had done something that would make you think that they were suicidal. They may want some time to gather their thoughts before they are ready to respond to you. Be persistent. If the person brushes off your concern with “no, I’m fine” or doesn’t respond to you, share your concerns again. Provide them with another opportunity for response. Remain calm and do not badger them, but be firm in your conviction that you want them to talk to you about what is bothering them. Let the person talk. Listen to what they say, and accept the feelings that they are expressing, even if they are painful for you to hear. Don’t try to argue with them or lecture them about what they should do. Offer options to get through the crisis and hope if possible. Validate the person’s feelings. When talking to someone about their feelings, it is important that you validate the feelings rather than try to “talk sense into them” or convince them that their feelings are irrational. For example, if someone tells you that they are contemplating suicide because their beloved pet just died, it is not helpful to tell them that they are overreacting. If they say that they have just lost their one true love, don’t tell them they are too young to understand love or that there are other fish in the sea.Do not try to “call the person’s bluff.” This may seem obvious, but you should not dare or encourage a person to commit suicide. You may see it as an approach that will enable the person to see that they are being silly, or even give them the opportunity to realize that they really want to live. However, your “push” could actually push them into acting, and you would likely feel responsible for their death. Make a deal with the suicidal person. Before ending your conversation, exchange promises. You should promise that you are available to talk to them at any time, night or day. In exchange, ask them to promise that they will talk to you before taking any suicidal action. A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Most people who commit suicide don’t want to die - they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to committing suicide, but they just can’t see one. You may be able to help them to see one.