Suicide, what a disgusting word. You would think that people wouldn’t do such a thing. You would think that a life is far too important just to be given away so easily. That is a mistake. There are about 800,000 cases of suicide every year. That is one death every forty seconds. (source: http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/) That is a huge number if we talk about it.
Suicide is not an accident. It’s a choice, a choice that the victim decides to take because of several possible reasons. Now you might be wondering why you don’t see much report in the news about suicide. Well, that’s because, most of the time, suicide cases are covered up by families or by people held responsible as an accident or death by natural cause like a heart attack or something like that, even the news cover up some stories about known celebrities who had killed themselves in their own homes.
We have to be aware when it comes to this case because, somehow, we are a part of the victim’s choice and that we can always do something to prevent such a decision.
We have to identify who are possible victims of such an act. These are different warning signs that may help you identify people who are planning to do such an act. These are the four changes that a certain individual who’s capable of doing such an act go through.
Change in appearance- If you have noticed a friend or a family member who had a great change of appearance, (examples are: hair, the way he/she dresses, color of nails and such), there must be a chance that person might have a certain idea of such an act. Now, of course, people, especially, teenagers, would wear different “trending fashion” every month, that doesn’t mean that they have a tendency to do such an act. You have to compare and contrast a sudden change over the past few months or so. Also, victims are most likely to start to incline in darker colours than usual, such as black and dark blue. Girls most likely would cut their long hair and make it much shorter than before.
Change in behaviour- A person who starts to be more aggressive than before or the opposite, like being less open about his/her feelings or a certain withdrawal from others, is a huge warning sign that you have to take in consideration. Human beings are social creatures and they would do their best to attend social gatherings, such as school meetings, meet-ups and the likes. Most of us like to share our feelings with others or go out with friends. One huge thing that you have to look out for that shows a sign in social withdrawal is being less active in social networking sites such as facebook. If a family member or a friend suddenly deletes his/her account for no apparent reason (without making a new one) is a huge sign of social withdrawal.
Change of interest- People who are likely to commit such an act would have a sudden change of interest in things. They would start to have an interest in poetry about death or darker sides of life; they would start to have an interest in weapons and such. There has to be a “change” of interest, which means that the person starts to like things that he/she never liked before and these things are more likely the dangerous types. A change of interest in darker colours can be a huge thing.
Change of speech- This is quite hard to notice. A change in speech, which means that the person starts to say goodbye’s or tries to start up a topic about, not just suicide, but about hatred and death would most likely mean that the person had thought of such things. People tend to oversee this, the same with Change of interest. But these two are quite important and the hardest ones to notice.
If you noticed all these changes in a certain person that you know, there is a huge probability that the person has thought of the idea of suicide. But these four changes are not sufficient enough to completely identify if the person is willing to the act of suicide. There are more to keep note such as:
Hurting the body- This is a big deal for teenagers. Most teenagers that go through depression, male or female alike, resort to hurting their body as a cure or to “make them feel” again. This is an addiction, once the individual starts doing it, it becomes hard to stop. Places to check are not just in the person’s wrists, certain parts like the upper leg or even the upper body are ideal parts that a person could damage, by the means of cutting or bruising. Keep an eye out for marks or bruises.
Decrease in work time and for students, affection with grades- When a person seem to stop working or a student’s grades begin to plummet, chances are there are some things that bothers he/she. There is a certain change that you have to keep an eye out for. If the person seemed to be hardworking before and all of a sudden stopped working, that’s a big change. If a student does well in class and all of the sudden his/her grades became lower than his/her average, it means that something is bothering him/her.
Actions that seem to be out of the normal- One of these actions is giving away of possessions. If a certain individual gives away a prized possession it means that certain individual is moving on. Giving away a prized possession is a huge step to most and for people who are depressed, it means a let go. Other actions that seem to be out of the normal are: Searching for sharp objects or objects that may hurt, buying unnecessary dosage of medical or sleeping pills.
Some of these things are easy to notice but also easy to be mistaken. Try to keep a keen eye and always compare and contrast the person from before to the person now.
Preventing suicide is no easy task but it can be done without help of a professional. It can be done one step at a time. Most people who are suicidal are depressed. Most but not all. Don’t think of a friend or a family member who’s suicidal as psychotic. That is not true. An individual who’s capable of doing such an act is not always psychotic but rather out of answers to his/her life, that is why a desperate decision is made which is suicide.
You have to keep in mind that prevention of such an act requires a huge amount of your time. You have to dedicate yourself to that person until that person fixes his/her own self.
Don’t think that you can’t do anything because you can always do something. A person who’s suicidal won’t ask help from a professional directly, you have to get that person there.
If you had identified an individual who is capable of doing such an act, don’t go right ahead and say that he/she needs help or don’t go and say that he/she is suicidal, rather approach and talk to him/her. Try to keep the conversation light and happy, and make sure that you keep the person off and away from bad topics and problems. Try to make the person smile or laugh.
You have to be yourself. Don’t act like somebody new. The victim needs to know that you’re there for them and that you will not easily stop from making him/her better.
During your conversations, talk less but listen more. Let the victim vent out his/her feelings, if the person cries, don’t stop him/her, crying is something that is needed to be done so he/she could feel better afterwards.
If you’re not close to the person, try to make friends with him/her. Start with greeting the person with a smile then make your way into his/her life. It will be hard but you must do it. Many times you might get shut down, but don’t give up.
Be open with any topic. The victim may want to talk about different topics that are unsettling, be open to those topics the most.
Keep note of your meetings. Don’t write stuff in the middle of your meetings, however, but keep note once you get home or alone. A psychiatrist would require your help later on if things get bad.
A couple of don’ts
Don’t argue with the victim. Don’t fight or shout and tell them that suicide is wrong.
Don’t ask for professional help immediately. A psychiatrist would scare the victim and make the job a lot harder.
Don’t think of the person as psychotic. He/she is not.
Don’t stop the person from crying. Don’t say that it’s not okay to cry. The person has to ventilate his/her feelings out.
Don’t tell the victim what is right or wrong. You don’t know any better, you just have to listen and be there him/her
Don’t have any end goals with the person. If the person is attractive or what not, don’t use his/her weakness as a way in to his/her life. That will make things much destructive and complicated for the victim’s position.
When you are close with the person, don’t think that your job is over. There’s a huge chance that you’re the only person that the victim feels comfortable with and that idea will be in his/her mind for a while, so if that’s the case your job has just started.
This is where you prevent such an act. Do what you were doing before and if the victim has changed to becoming better, you still have to keep doing it.
Try to keep off professional help, unless the victim tells you to get one for him/her. Most likely at this point, if the victim wants to be saved he/she would want professional help, but he/she won’t have the strength to do it. You’ll have to get one for him/her. If he/she doesn’t want that kind of help then don’t force him/her. Do what you were doing before and the victim will inch to be saved.
Start to bring her back to society. The victim may have been away from people for quite some time, you have to bring him/her back to people important. First start from family members, then to friends. If his/her friend(s) are unhealthy, find new ones for him/her. Introduce him/her to your own set of friends. It will most likely make the person happy once again.
Have a backup plan ready. If the victim seems much happier and away from the idea of suicide, don’t think that he/she won’t do it. You always have to prepare for the worst.
For the worst
If you think that the person is getting worse and you have no handle from the situation but you are close with the person, ask the person four different questions.
Are you planning on doing it?(suicide)
How are you planning on doing it?
When are you planning to do it?
Do you intend in doing it?
You have to be calm and patient in asking these questions. Eventually the victim will answer. If he/she doesn’t, don’t force the person to answer through any means. If he/she doesn’t answer, be for him/her and don’t leave unless a professional comes to aid. Keep the victim away from sharp or deadly objects . Don’t leave the victim alone. Keep the victim calm and collected but whatever happens; be there for him/her.
At this point, you will have to get professional help. You no longer have a handle in the situation, so get someone to help you, a psychiatrist. Make sure that the person goes to meetings, drive him/her if you can and wait if you have to. Join the meeting if you can. Do whatever the psychiatrist tells you to do and if there are medications that need to be taken, make sure that the victim takes it.
One last thing, don’t ever, ever, let the victim feel alone. Let him/her know that you’re there.
These are the ways to prevent suicide. Such an act must not be done whatever the cost. You can always do something to prevent it.
- Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone who is Suicidal
Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. Learn what you can do. One of my greatest sources for this hub. Thank you!
© 2014 Khen Ramos