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How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal? | Warning Signs of Suicidal

18 hours ago 236 Reads 7 min read
Tanishka Pathak Depression 20 Jan 2021
How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal? | Warning Signs of Suicidal

Suicide is not a mental illness but it is a serious potential outcome of treatable mental disorders including major depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, and borderline personality disorders etc. Suicide results when people don't understand the problem sufferer go through. Later, blaming that why he/she did it, people ignore when signals were being given. 

According to research, none of the suicides happens without warnings. This year, Sushant Singh's death shook us and left us with multiple question marks. All we have now is tears and revenge for the person who was behind his stress #justice for Sushant Singh Rajput.

Being a mental health professional, I'm writing boldly about suicide in my blog and will definitely try to answer your questions with a pledge that we will not ignore the signals now! 

Who Mostly Commit Suicide?

a depressed girl pressing her head

Adolescents, young adults, and the elderly have the highest suicide rates and thus the risk of suicide is also high in the following groups:

  • Family history of suicide
  • Who has lost a spouse? 
  • Single, unskilled, or unemployed Person
  • People with a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • A co-worker or  friend  who committed suicide
  • People who have also done a suicide attempt in the past
  • Prone to violent or impulsive behaviour
  • People who are suffering from pain for a long time
  • Recently hospitalized
  • People with substance abuse problems
  • People who are police officers and health care providers and work with ill patients

Suicide Risk Factors

Risk factors are the conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to commit suicide.

Historical Risk Factor

  1. Childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma
  2. Family history of suicide
  3. Previous suicide attempts

Environmental Risk Factor 

  • Deadly access means including firearms and drugs
  •  People who suffer from stress, bullying, harassment, relationship problems, and unemployment for a long time
  • Stressful life events, such as rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life changes, or loss
  • Exposure to another person's suicide, or graphic or sensational accounts of suicide

Health Risk factor

  • Mental health conditions
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Depression
  • Substance use problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality traits of aggression
  • Relationships
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Serious physical health conditions including pain

Suicide Warning Signs

To see when a person may commit suicide is the appearance of some behaviour change or entirely new behaviour. It is a matter of heightened concern if new or altered behaviour is related to a traumatic event, loss, or change. 

Warning signs in talk

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Unbearable pain
  • Being a burden to others
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling trapped

Warning signs in mood

  • Loss of interest
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Irritability
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement
  • Agitation/Anger

Warning signs in behaviour

  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • People who look for ways to end their lives
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

How To Help a Friend Who Is Feeling Suicidal

If your friend is at risk of attempting suicide, you should remove any possible means that they can use to hurt themselves and should no leave him alone. If you believe that the threat is serious, then it is very important that you should support, listen, and encourage your friend to seek help from mental health professionals.

The following are the helpful tips 

Show Support

There are many things you can do to be a supportive and sympathetic friend. The main thing is to avoid rejecting what your friend is feeling.

Speak From the Heart: 

You should show that you care by talking with them, holding them while you cry, or whatever is necessary. Research has shown that accepting what people are experiencing can help them process their thoughts and reduce their suicidal thoughts. 

Listen: 

A suicidal person bears some burden that they feel can't be handled anymore, so it is necessary to lighten the load. You should offer them to listen to their feelings of anger, despair, and loneliness.

Validate & Show Openness:

You should become non-judgmental, calm, accepting, and sympathetic. In this way, the person will become closer to you by picking up on your attitude and start showing him a mirror for himself.

Confirm Suicidal Thoughts

You should not be afraid to ask about the suicidal thoughts of your friend. Studies have shown that if you ask about suicidal thoughts from a suicidal person, then it doesn't increase suicidal thoughts. 

In this way, you don't put thoughts in their heads but you give him valuable information on how to proceed and help.

Keep Them Talking:

You should talk with your friend that will help them to calm down and ease the emotional burden. You can avoid their frustration by talking to them for a long time. 

Avoid Trying to Solve the Problem:

You should avoid trying to solve the problems with quick solutions because solutions depend on how big a problem is. So you should offer compassion and empathy for what they are feeling instead of what they should feel.

Treatment for people who are at risk for suicide

Treatment mainly depends on the underlying cause of their suicidal thoughts and behaviour but talk therapy and medication can be a treatment in many cases.

Talk therapy

Talk therapy is also known as psychotherapy and it is a possible treatment to reduce your risk of a suicide attempt.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):

Its main purpose is to tell how stressful life events and feelings can contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviour. It can help to replace negative beliefs with positive ones and thus gain satisfaction and control in your life. This also helps to reduce anxiety, angriness, insecurity, and also helps to reduce suicidal behaviours. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): 

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that tells how our thoughts can lead to behaviours and actions. In this therapy, people learn to cope with strong emotions. DBT teaches many skills that help in the following:

  • Reduce self-destructive behaviours
  • Improve relationships
  • Control intense emotions

Medication

If talk therapy is not sufficient for reducing risk, medication may be prescribed to reduce symptoms such as depression and anxiety. By treating these symptoms suicidal thoughts can be reduced. 

The following type of medication can be prescribed:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic medications

Lifestyle changes

Not only talk therapy and medication but also sometimes adopting some healthy habits can help to reduce the risk of suicide.

Avoiding alcohol and drugs: It is important to stay away from alcohol and drugs, as these substances can reduce blockages and increase the risk of suicide.

Exercising regularly: You should also do exercise regularly especially in sunlight and outdoors. The production of certain brain chemicals is stimulated by these activities and that makes people happy and more relaxed.

Sleeping well: Getting enough quality sleep is also important because bad sleep can make symptoms of mental health very worse. If you are having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your healthcare provider.

Recommended Read: Improving Sleep-Wake Cycle

Final Words:

Finally, I can say that it can be very scary and taxing to support a friend or a loved one who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. If your loved one still attempts or commits suicide in spite of your help and support, then you should not blame yourself. 

You should remind yourself that you did your best to help him and help him to seek help from mental health professionals. You should remind that with certainty suicide can't be prevented but it takes time. To prevent suicide, the best way is to know the risk factors such as mental disorders, depression, hopelessness, sleep problems, and anxiety before completing the process of self-destruction. 

You should also remember that these suicide attempts can also occur when people are not able to cope with situations such as the end of a relationship, financial problems, health problems.

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