The First Step Towards Suicide Prevention: Awareness
This article aims to spread awareness about suicide prevention, with a few tips about how to be mindful with our words and actions while engaging with someone who is considering suicide.
We often wonder what makes a person take such drastic decisions, what drives people to kill themselves? And how can someone help? If you think that someone you know is suicidal, there’s a lot you can do to help.
Suicide is a serious issue. In India the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that the rates of suicide are extremely high, claiming 1,39,123 lives in 2019 alone.
Awareness is the first step toward suicide prevention. Debunking the common myths about suicide can help society realize how important it is to help people to seek treatment and to show the importance of tackling mental health challenges. Interventions to increase awareness, and to educate people should be taken. Let us, therefore, look at certain facts.
Suicide is a desperate and unbearable attempt to escape suffering. A suicidal person, overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and loneliness, cannot see any other way but suicide for relief. That being said, most suicidal people have deep struggles about ending their lives, alongside their desire to stop their pain. People want an alternative to suicide and end up looking at suicide as a final resort.
Individuals who commit suicide are not selfish and do not take the easy way out. They suffer so much that they feel helpless and hopeless. People who have suicidal ideas do not choose to do so. It is a serious psychological symptom because of mental illness or a difficult life situation.
Talking about suicide will not lead and encourage suicide. Suicide is a common stigma and as a result, many people are afraid of talking about it. Speaking about it not only reduces stigma but also allows people to look for help, reflect their views, and share their experiences with others.
Most suicides precede warning signs — verbally or behaviorally. Therefore, the warning signs/symptoms associated with suicide should be learned and understood.
Mental Illness is not the sole cause of suicide. People are upset, depressed, or desperate, and under extreme distress and emotional pain may not necessarily show any other symptoms of other mental illnesses. Not all individuals who try to commit suicide are mentally ill.
Suicidal thoughts and attempts are also associated with problems of relationships and other life stressors. Such as crime, legal matters, persecution, expulsion or loss of homes, the death of the person loved, devastating diseases, trauma, sexual abuse, denial, and recent or imminent crisis.
The impact of suicide on families, friends, colleagues, communities, and societies is devastating. Suicides are preventable. And a lot can be done at the individual, local and national levels to prevent suicides.
The means adopted for committing suicide vary from the easily available and effective methods, such as poison consumption. Limiting access to drugs, chemical substances, and weapons could help to maintain patients safety. In some cases, suicide rates have been reduced using such strategies by countries like South Korea and Sri Lanka.
Community-based actions such as gatekeeper training can be used as psychological first aid for individuals by people who work with young people and at-risk individuals. Gatekeeper training aims to empower people with the skills required to respond to people with mental trauma and suicidal tendencies.
So, as a society, how can we help? Community-based interventions can help to reduce suicide rates effectively. The symptoms of suicidal people should be looked after by peers and family members. Preventing first means accurately recognizing the warning signs of suicide. This may include the talk of death, suicide, and intense feelings of desperation, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, and self-hatred. They may also say that they are a burden, withdrawing from friends, family, isolation, loss of interest in activities, extreme mood swings, giving away possessions/making out a will, saying goodbye to friends and family, and seeking access to lethal means.
When someone says that they’re suicidal or shows symptoms, what can you do? First things first, be there for the person. The most important thing is to help individuals find mental health professionals. Get them in touch with online and offline helplines.
Things to consider when you communicate with a suicidal person:
Take the person seriously.
Let the individual know that they’re not alone, that you care.
Listen to what they say without judgment or disapproval.
Be patient and acceptable, and avoid arguing or trying to provide solutions. Do not be afraid to talk about any thoughts of suicide. What you do by bringing the subject up is to give them the chance to be transparent and to support them.
If the person asks you not to tell anyone, be mindful that your promise will have to be broken to benefit them.
Do not leave them if they seem to be in imminent danger of hurt.
It may take some time and persistence, but urge them to visit a mental health professional.
Contact helplines and approach a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist immediately if you need help with a crisis and are going through these symptoms.
No matter your role, if it’s starting a conversation, encouraging people to seek help, being supportive, some techniques can benefit people regardless of their position. Strategies that work and that can help save lives.
As a society, our goal should be to reduce the rate of suicide. So, pledge towards raising mental health awareness and counter suicide-related stigma.
Gayatri is a student pursuing psychology at Fergusson College. She wants to further study clinical and sports psychology. Gayatri enjoys dancing and doodling. A passionate traveller who loves trekking. Gayatri also fosters cats and dogs.
Articles published on the blog are the statements, views, opinions of the author and don’t necessarily reflect the position of the organization. Read the entire disclaimer on Margika’s website.