Image

Archive for Suicide

Role or affect on loved ones and friends

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

 

There usually are people to whom a suicidal person can turn for help; if you ever know someone is feeling suicidal, or feel suicidal yourself, seek out people who could help, and keep seeking until you find someone who will listen.

Once again, the only way to know if someone is feeling suicidal is if you ask them and they tell you.

Suicidal people, like all of us, need love, understanding and care.  People usually don't ask "are you feeling so bad that you're thinking about suicide?" directly.  Locking themselves away increases the isolation they feel and the likelihood that they may attempt suicide.  Asking if they are feeling suicidal has the effect of giving them permission to feel the way they do, which reduces their isolation; if they are feeling suicidal, they may see that someone else is beginning to understand how they feel.

If someone you know tells you that they feel suicidal, above all, listen to them.  Then listen some more.  Tell them "I don't want you to die".  Try to make yourself available to hear about how they feel, and try to form a "no-suicide contract": ask them to promise you that they won't suicide, and that if they feel that they want to hurt themselves again, they won't do anything until they can contact either you, or someone else that can support them.

Take them seriously, and refer them to someone equipped to help them most effectively, such as a Doctor, Community Health Centre,  Counsellor, Psychologist, Social Worker, Youth Worker, Minister, etc etc.  If they appear acutely suicidal and won't talk, you may need to get  them to a hospital emergency department.

Don't try to "rescue" them or to take their responsibilities on board yourself, or be a hero and try to handle the situation on your own.  You can be the most help by referring them to someone equipped to offer them the help they need, while you continue to support them and remember that what happens is ultimately their responsibility.  Get yourself some support too, as you try to get support for them; don't try to save the world on your own shoulders.

If you don't know where to turn, chances are there are a number of 24 Hour anonymous telephone counselling or suicide prevention services in your area that you can call, listed in your local telephone directory.

 

 

HOW DO I RECOGNISE IF SOMEONE IS AT RISK OF SUICIDE?

 

Often suicidal people will give warning signs, consciously or unconsciously, indicating that they need help and often in the hope that they will be rescued.

These usually occur in clusters, so often several warning signs will be apparent.  The presence of one or more of these warning signs is not intended as a guarantee that the person is suicidal: the only way to know for sure is to ask them.  In other cases, a suicidal person may not want to be rescued, and may avoid giving warning signs.

Typical warning signs which are often exhibited by people who are feeling suicidal include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Depression, broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness   such as clinical depression, but indicated by signs such as:
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Showing signs of sadness, hopelessness, irritability
  • Changes in appetite, weight, behaviour, level of activity or sleep   patterns.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Making negative comments about self.
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies.
  • Sudden change from extreme depression to being `at peace' (may indicate that they have decided to attempt suicide).
  • Talking, Writing or Hinting about suicide.
  • Previous attempts.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Purposefully putting personal affairs in order:
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance.
  • `Clearing the air' over personal incidents from the past.

This list is not definitive: some people may show no signs yet still feel suicidal, others may show many signs yet be coping OK; the only way to know for sure is to ask.  In conjunction with the risk factors listed above, this list is intended to help people identify others who may be in need of support.

If a person is highly perturbed, has formed a potentially lethal plan to kill themselves and has the means to carry it out immediately available, they would be considered likely to attempt suicide.

 

Effect of suicide on loved ones/friends

Suicide is often extremely traumatic for the friends and family members that remain (the survivors), even though people that attempt suicide often think that no-one cares about them.  In addition to the feelings of grief normally associated with a person's death, there may be guilt, anger, resentment, remorse, confusion and great distress over unresolved issues.  The stigma surrounding suicide can make it extremely difficult for survivors to deal with their grief and can cause them also to feel terribly isolated.

 

Survivors often find that people relate differently to them after the suicide, and may be very reluctant to talk about what has happened for fear of condemnation.  They often feel like a failure because someone they cared so much about has chosen to suicide, and may also be fearful of forming any new relationships because of the intense pain they have experienced through the relationship with the person who has completed suicide.

 

People who have experienced the suicide of someone they cared deeply about can benefit from "survivor groups", where they can relate to people who have been through a similar experience, and know they will be accepted without being judged or condemned.  Most counselling services should be able to refer people to groups in their local area.  Survivor groups, counselling and other appropriate help can be of tremendous assistance in easing the intense burden of unresolved feelings that suicide survivors often carry.

How does suicide affect family and friends?

Suicide is often extremely traumatic for the friends and family members that remain (the survivors), even though people that attempt suicide often think that no-one cares about them.  In addition to the feelings of grief normally associated with a person's death, there may be guilt, anger, resentment, remorse, confusion and great distress over unresolved issues.  The stigma surrounding suicide can make it extremely difficult for survivors to deal with their grief and can cause them also to feel terribly isolated.

Survivors often find that people relate differently to them after the suicide, and may be very reluctant to talk about what has happened for fear of condemnation.  They often feel like a failure because someone they cared so much about has chosen to suicide, and may also be fearful of forming any new relationships because of the intense pain they have experienced through the relationship with the person who has completed suicide.

People who have experienced the suicide of someone they cared deeply about can benefit from "survivor groups", where they can relate to people who have been through a similar experience, and know they will be accepted without being judged or condemned.  Most counselling services should be able to refer people to groups in their local area.  Survivor groups, counselling and other appropriate help can be of tremendous assistance in easing the intense burden of unresolved feelings that suicide survivors often carry.

 

What about me, am i at risk?

It's quite likely that some people that read this will one day attempt suicide, so here's a quick suicide prevention exercise: think of a list of 5 people who you might talk to if you had no-one else to turn to, starting with the most preferred person at the top of the list.  Form a "no-suicide contract" with yourself promising that if you ever feel suicidal you will go to each of the people on this list in turn and simply tell them how you feel; and that if someone didn't listen, you'd just keep going until you found someone that would.

Many suicide attempters are so distressed that they can't see anywhere to turn in the midst of a crisis, so having thought beforehand of several people to approach would help.

What can i do about it ?

There usually are people to whom a suicidal person can turn for help; if you ever know someone is feeling suicidal, or feel suicidal yourself, seek out people who could help, and keep seeking until you find someone who will listen.

Once again, the only way to know if someone is feeling suicidal is if you ask them and they tell you.

Suicidal people, like all of us, need love, understanding and care.  People usually don't ask "are you feeling so bad that you're thinking about suicide?" directly.  Locking themselves away increases the isolation they feel and the likelihood that they may attempt suicide.  Asking if they are feeling suicidal has the effect of giving them permission to feel the way they do, which reduces their isolation; if they are feeling suicidal, they may see that someone else is beginning to understand how they feel.

If someone you know tells you that they feel suicidal, above all, listen to them.  Then listen some more.  Tell them "I don't want you to die".  Try to make yourself available to hear about how they feel, and try to form a "no-suicide contract": ask them to promise you that they won't suicide, and that if they feel that they want to hurt themselves again, they won't do anything until they can contact either you, or someone else that can support them.

Take them seriously, and refer them to someone equipped to help them most effectively, such as a Doctor, Community Health Centre,  Counsellor, Psychologist, Social Worker, Youth Worker, Minister, etc etc.  If they appear acutely suicidal and won't talk, you may need to get  them to a hospital emergency department.

Don't try to "rescue" them or to take their responsibilities on board yourself, or be a hero and try to handle the situation on your own.  You can be the most help by referring them to someone equipped to offer them the help they need, while you continue to support them and remember that what happens is ultimately their responsibility.  Get yourself some support too, as you try to get support for them; don't try to save the world on your own shoulders.

If you don't know where to turn, chances are there are a number of 24 Hour anonymous telephone counselling or suicide prevention services in your area that you can call, listed in your local telephone directory.

 

I’m a bit uncomfortable with this subject. can’t it just go away ?

Suicide has traditionally been a taboo topic in western society, which has led to further alienation and only made the problem worse.  Even after their deaths, suicide victims have often been alienated by not being buried near other people in the cemetery, as though they had committed some utterly unforgivable sin.

We could go a long way to reducing our suicide rate by accepting people as they are, removing the social taboo on talking about feeling suicidal, and telling people that ‘it is OK’ to feel so bad that you'd think about suicide.  A person simply talking about how they feel greatly reduces their distress; they also begin to see other options, and are much less likely to attempt suicide.

What can contribute to someone feeling suicidal ?

People can usually deal with isolated stressful or traumatic events and experiences reasonably well, but when there is an accumulation of such events over an extended period, our normal coping strategies can be pushed to the limit.

The stress or trauma generated by a given event will vary from person to person depending on their background and how they deal with that particular stressor.  Some people are personally more or less vulnerable to particular stressful events, and some people may find certain events stressful which others would see as a positive experience.  Furthermore, individuals deal with stress and trauma in different ways; the presence of multiple risk factors does not necessarily imply that a person will become suicidal.

Depending on a person's individual response, risk factors that may contribute to a person feeling suicidal include:

    Significant changes in:

  • Relationships
  • Well-being of self or family member
  • Body image
  • Job, school, university, house, locality
  • Financial situation
  • World environment

    Significant losses:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Loss of a valued relationship
  • Loss of self esteem or personal expectations
  • Loss of employment

    Perceived abuse:

  • Physical
  • Emotional/Psychological
  • Sexual
  • Social
  • Neglect

 

How do i recgonise if someone is at risk of suicide?

Often suicidal people will give warning signs, consciously or unconsciously, indicating that they need help and often in the hope that they will be rescued.

These usually occur in clusters, so often several warning signs will be apparent.  The presence of one or more of these warning signs is not intended as a guarantee that the person is suicidal: the only way to know for sure is to ask them.  In other cases, a suicidal person may not want to be rescued, and may avoid giving warning signs.

Typical warning signs which are often exhibited by people who are feeling suicidal include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Depression, broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness   such as clinical depression, but indicated by signs such as:
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Showing signs of sadness, hopelessness, irritability
  • Changes in appetite, weight, behaviour, level of activity or sleep   patterns.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Making negative comments about self.
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies.
  • Sudden change from extreme depression to being `at peace' (may indicate that they have decided to attempt suicide).
  • Talking, Writing or Hinting about suicide.
  • Previous attempts.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Purposefully putting personal affairs in order:
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance.
  • `Clearing the air' over personal incidents from the past.

This list is not definitive: some people may show no signs yet still feel suicidal, others may show many signs yet be coping OK; the only way to know for sure is to ask.  In conjunction with the risk factors listed above, this list is intended to help people identify others who may be in need of support.

If a person is highly perturbed, has formed a potentially lethal plan to kill themselves and has the means to carry it out immediately available, they would be considered likely to attempt suicide.