Mental Health

How to Help A Loved One Suffering From Suicidal Thoughts – World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

In this day and age, suicide rates are skyrocketing. Every day millions of lives are lost due to suicide, yet very little help and support are available to help prevent this. Only after a death occurs, then a thorough investigation is put into place.

We hear very often that prevention is better than cure, then shouldn’t we be applying that same method to help to prevent suicide? I know it is easier said than done, because suicide in itself is a very sensitive matter, and a lot of fear is associated with discussing it.

However, just because the discussion of suicide is seen as taboo, that doesn’t mean that silence is ok. If correct measures are put in place to help people speak up about their suicidal thoughts, we can help prevent the loss of precious lives.

According to Wikipedia: About one person in 5,000–15,000 dies by suicide every year (1.4% of all deaths), with a reported global rate of 10.7 per 100,000 population in 2015 (was 11.6 in 2008). In Western countries, male and female rates of suicidal behaviours differ at a greater degree compared to those in the rest of the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

The rates of suicide are significantly rising and the age group it’s affecting is getting larger. According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK alone, the male suicide rate was significantly higher than the female suicide rate. This seems to be consistent with other parts of the world too.

How can we prevent this from increasing?

Important steps have to be taken in order to help loved ones, whether it’s your spouse, your friend, your parent or even your neighbour! If the signs are seen earlier on than the correct intervention can be given to help save lives.

Tip 1: Ask people how they are feeling mentally often

In the fast-paced world, we have become disconnected from our emotions and our loved ones. We always ask “how are you?” but nobody ever asks us how we are feeling mentally. Sometimes, small talk can be a perfect point to help your loved one become more mentally aware of how they are, which may help them to seek help if they are feeling suicidal.

Tip 2: Keep open discussions in the home with loved ones

Many times people who are suicidal, or have committed suicide tend to keep a diary or journal. This tends to be because they are unable to openly discuss how they are feeling within the home environment.

Having an environment which is open to discussion and free from judgement is crucial in spotting early signs of a suicidal family member. If discussions are kept open and honest, particularly taught to children from a young age, then it can help them to feel like they are loved and listened to and help prevent suffering behind closed doors and eventually ending up committing suicide.

Tip 3: Spotting unusual behaviour signs

Picking up unusual signs is crucial in order to help a loved one prevent suicide. Certain behaviours are common when a person is feeling suicidal, and it is important that they don’t go ignored. Behaviours including:

  • Withdrawal from social life: Keeping a distance in their social life – not wanting to go out too much, preferring to eat alone instead of with the family
  • Personality change: Being overly happy, pretending to be content in life, but actually not feeling mentally content
  • Sleep deprivation: Suffering from insomnia or having an irregular sleeping pattern
  • Self-harming: Spot signs of marks across the wrist or body, when asked about body scars, notice their behaviour and speech – do they look sideways? Do they stutter when mentioning them? Do they avoid eye contact and looked flushed when asked questions about their scars?

Tip 4: Being supportive when a crisis occurs

Most people find it difficult in times of bereavement, break-up or a financial crisis, however, for some people this can occupy their mind and lead to suicide. It is important to keep in touch with loved ones especially when they are going through a crisis, to help prevent suicide. This is significantly seen in men, as they seem to be judged if they open up their feelings.

You have to remember, men are just as vulnerable as women, if not more, and so to be supportive in showing emotions is important to help prevent a loved one from committing suicide – remember, the highest rate of suicide occurs in middle-aged men.

Is Suicide Considered a Taboo Topic in Society?

The concept of suicide is seen as a very sensitive topic, so many individuals are afraid to discuss it.

What is it about suicide that makes people become hush?

It has a lot to do with how society has conditioned people into thinking that suicide is a personal matter.

It is a matter of what the individual was suffering from, their own struggles whether they were suffering from depression, anxiety or suffering from an abusive relationship/marriage.

 There are so many factors which go into why and how a person commits suicide, but it is difficult to pinpoint the signs building up to it.

 On several occasions we hear of celebrity stories of successful people laughing and spending time with their family, then the next day committing suicide and shocking their family and the world.

Some examples including, Kate Spade, Alexander McQueen & Simone Battle. All of these individuals were living successful lives with promising careers, yet they took the step to end their lives and shocked the world. Mental Health Awareness needs to be recognised with more passion and determination, as recognising and helping loved ones who are suffering from mental health disorders, can help them feel less judged or stigmatised, and help save many precious lives and many families from tearing apart.

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1 Comment

  1. How about starting up a “Yellow Ribbon Project” suicide hotline in your community? Maybe you can team up with a leader at your local community center has a some teenagers looking for a community service project and would like to learn the guidelines. It was something our community did back in the 90’s and we had a lot of fun with it.

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