Mental illnesses and depression have a way of sucking the energy and colors out of life. It brings out the worst memories and uses it against you to bring you down to your knees. If not treated, it can often lead to suicide.
According to the WHO, every year, about 800,000 people die by suicide and for every suicide committed, more people attempt it. It is the duty of every fellow human to make sure that we are there for the individual and encourage others to talk about what they feel. It is imperative to spread the message that mental illnesses are real and treatable. It is very common to feel stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression but it should never be the reason to end your life. Killing yourself is NEVER the answer!
It is important to understand the reason that drives so many people to kill themselves. Blinded by self-loathing, isolation, loneliness and/or hopelessness, the individual feels like there is no reason why they should live in a world that is, in their eyes, so painful. Suicide is an attempt to escape a life that has become unbearable. Individuals who think that death is the only answer are deeply conflicted and disturbed by the lives they are leading. They always wish and are actively searching for an alternative to suicide.
Even the most desperate and the determined individuals have mixed feelings about death. Until the last second, they hope for intervention – humanly or divine. Most people give warning signs. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize the signs and know how to respond to them. Various suicide prevention organizations even offer training programs to understand those signs.
Warning signs to look out for:
- Talking about suicide
- Harming oneself
- Seeking objects to perform suicide
- Talking about death
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Giving away prized possessions, writing a will
- Sudden sense of calm after a bout of depression
While these are the major signs, others include moodiness, personality changes, losing interest in day to day activities, negligence in appearance or state of living and big changes in everyday habits.
If you spot any of these warning signs in a person you care, the first thing that you should do is talk. Talking about suicide won’t make a person want to take their lives but would give them an outlet to express themselves. Talking about their feelings can release a negative sense of hopelessness and eventually prevent an attempt.
If you feel self-conscious and don’t know how to talk to them about it, you can always begin the conversation by asking how they are.
Hey, I have noticed some differences in you. Just wondering how you are?
I wanted to check in with you because you didn’t seem like yourself lately.
Make sure when the person is talking about their feelings, you should listen, be sympathetic and offer hope. If you seem uncaring or insensitive, the person will shell up and won’t let you help.
However, no matter how much to want to help make sure you never:
- Argue with the individual – Do not say things like, “Your death will hurt you family” or “look at the bright side” or “You should try and be positive.”
- Don’t act surprised and lecture on the value of life or how suicide is wrong or the coward’s way out.
- Don’t promise secrecy or confidentiality. You might have to break your word when you talk to mental health professionals.
- Don’t offer ways to fix their problem or to make everything better.
- Evaluate the risk factor and contact the authorities if necessary. If the suicide is imminent, do not leave the person alone at any cost.
Other suicide prevention methods will include:
- Being proactive: Call, drop by, take the person out.
- Creating a safety plan for moments that might trigger negative feelings
- Long Haul support
- Removing potential means of suicide
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please call the authorities or the suicide prevention helpline immediately.