Suicide Prevention: Know the Signs
Category : Health
Author : Sana Rubiyana
According to NCRB 2021 report, there was a sharp rise in number of deaths by suicide. In absolute terms, there were 153,052 deaths by suicides, the highest number since 1967; the earliest period for which data is available.

Suicide is death caused by self-inflicted injury with the intent to ends one’s life.
Suicide most often occurs when stressors and mental health issues come together to create an experience of hopelessness, helplessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance related problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide.

According to NCRB 2021 report, there was a sharp rise in number of deaths by suicide. In absolute terms, there were 153,052 deaths by suicides, the highest number since 1967; the earliest period for which data is available.

Although you may not know what might cause a friend or loved one to attempt suicide, these are

 

Some risk factors we should know:

  1. Has attempted suicide in the past.
  2. Has mental health conditions such as depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.
  3. Has long term pain or is terminally ill.
  4. Has expressed feelings of helplessness or/and hopelessness.
  5. Has issues with money or legal problems.
  6. Has shown violent or impulsive behaviours in the past.
  7. Has substance or alcohol abuse problems, is socially isolated and lacks social support.
  8. Has a family history of death by suicide.
  9. Is going through a break up, divorce or death, or has a history of abuse, neglect or bullying of any sort.

Cultural and societal factors also play an important role in increasing the risk, such as the stigma around mental health, which makes a person feel ashamed or afraid to ask for help. A lack of access to healthcare services, especially limited mental health services also increases the risk.

Some of the protective factors are:

  1. Easy access to mental health care services and being proactive about mental health.
  2. Feeling connected to family and getting community support.
  3. Being taught life skills such as problem solving skills and coping skills.
  4. Having limited access to lethal means and,
  5. Cultural and religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help seeking behaviour while also creating a sense of purpose and self-worth.

Cultural and societal factors also play an important role in increasing the risk, such as the stigma around mental health, which makes a person feel ashamed or afraid to ask for help. A lack of access to healthcare services, especially limited mental health services also increases the risk.

Some of the more common warning signs of someone with suicidal ideation are that of a person having long lasting sadness and mood swings. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The person chooses to be alone, isolates or avoids friends, family and social activities. They also lose interest or pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed. There is a change in a person’s behaviour and attitude, such as speaking or moving with unusual slowness. The person engages in dangerous activities or shows self-harm behaviours. A person experiencing recent trauma or life crises such as death of loved one or pet, divorce or break up of a relationship, diagnosis of major illness, loss of a job or serious financial problem. The person talks about feeling hopeless, being a burden to others, feeling trapped, stuck or having no reason to live.

In many cases suicide can be prevented, by learning the risk factors for suicide, knowing the signs of depression and other mental health conditions, by recognizing suicide warning signs, by providing empathetic listening and a caring support system. People who receive support from caring friends and family and who have access to mental health services are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than are those who are isolated from support.

Mental health education in itself is suicide prevention. People of all ages need to learn about mental health and mental illness. How can we expect people to reach out when they are struggling with any of the following:

  1. They don’t know what’s going on.
  2. They don’t know that they can be helped.
  3. They don’t know who can help them.
  4. They don’t know that they are not alone with their experiences.
  5. They have been taught to see mental health struggles as shameful or as a personal weakness.
  6. They have never been taught how to seek help.
  7. They have never been taught when to ask for help and,
  8. They don’t know how to describe their experience.

Mental health is a vital component of health and this should be reflected in school curriculums in the way we talk about mental health. Everyone should have easy access to comprehensive, destigmatized and accurate information about mental health.

Not everyone who is considering suicide will say so and not everyone who threatens suicide will follow through with it. However, every threat of suicide should be taken seriously and immediate help, care and support should be provided.

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