Mon, 09/05/2011 - 22:23 — Gina Aimey-Moss

What Everybody Should Know About Suicide

Nobody wants to talk about suicide but that doesn't make it less real. I decided to discuss this topic in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day (that is September 10).

Sometimes when people commit suicide their loved ones are taken by surprise because they didn't notice any signs. However, suicidal people usually leave a trail of warning signs but some may be more obvious than others.

Depressed girl

People who are depressed may consider suicide

So here are some clues that a person is at risk:

  • Depression is a common risk factor. A depressed person may be moodier or more melancholy than usual, have insomnia or sleep too much, have a sudden change in appetite and/or weight (they either gain or lose weight abruptly), be always fatigued, and lose interest or pleasure in their favourite activities.

  • Talking about it. Contrary to popular belief, someone who talks or jokes about taking their own life probably isn't just trying to get attention. This may be a cry for help.

  • Substance abuse. Many people drink too much or abuse drugs because they want to feel less depressed or anxious. They are at higher risk of suicide since drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions and only give temporary relief for depression.

  • Feeling trapped. A suicidal person may feel that life has gotten so terrible that suicide is the only way out.

  • Giving away prized possessions or developing an unusual interest in wills and life insurance.

  • Distinct changes in personality and/or behaviour.

  • Recent death or loss of a loved one. People who are grieving a loved one may become so depressed that suicide might look like a viable option.

  • History of suicide attempts. Whether the person has previously tried to kill themselves or their family has a history of suicide, he/she is at a higher risk.

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Victims of abuse may see suicide as a way to cope.

  • Plan, means and intent. This is the most important sign. Psychologists often try to determine if someone is actively suicidal by finding out if the client has a plan (e.g. overdosing on pills) and the means (e.g. do they own any pills that are hazardous at high doses,) and if he/she really intend to follow through with the plan. If the person says he/she won't really commit suicide, the psychologist might ask what is stopping him/her from doing it so that this could be seen as a reason to live whenever times get really hard.

  • If a friend or loved one shows any of these warning signs, don't ignore it! Take them seriously. Next week, I'll talk about what you can do to help.

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