Suicide Awareness: See and Be Seen
According to the World Health Organization, 1 million people a year die by taking their own lives. This may seem hard to understand for the 72% of Americans who feel optimistic about the future. But a person considering suicide has tunnel-vision thoughts of despair, hopelessness, isolation and self-hatred. They don’t want to die; they just want relief from the pain.
Recognizing warning signs is the first step to preventing suicide.
One major warning sign includes frequently talking or writing about death or dying. This is particularly a risk if the person also abuses substances like drugs or alcohol, has a mood disorder, a family history of suicide, has previously attempted suicide or has experienced a recent traumatic event. Acquiring a means of suicide, such as weapons or drugs, is also a major warning sign.
Other warning signs include major personality shifts (such as becoming withdrawn instead of outgoing); self-destructive behavior (reckless driving, taking unnecessary risks, increased drug or alcohol use); or getting affairs in order, saying good-byes or having a sudden sense of calm (after deciding to commit suicide).
Hopelessness is a key emotion for someone who is suicidal. They may speak of the future with pessimism, see limited options to any problems at hand, describe themselves as helpless or trapped, and speak about experiencing overwhelming or unbearable feelings.
Talking openly about suicidal thoughts is the next step of prevention. We may feel afraid to bring up the subject when we are worried about friends or loved ones, but doing so could save someone’s life. Secret negative thoughts only create more isolation. Bringing them to light with the support of others is a path to solutions. Even if you think the person is “only trying to get attention” (an unfortunate myth), attending to the threat opens the door to address the underlying need for help with deeper issues.
> When speaking with a suicidal person, take the person seriously, be yourself, express sympathy and listen well. > > Offer hope and encourage them that they will not always feel this way.
> Try not to argue with them, tell them how to fix themselves, or judge their feelings.
> Offer to help the person find professional help and follow through on doing so.
> Encourage them in the process.
If they will not go for help, get professional advice for yourself to know how to deal with your loved one.
None of us can predict or control the future actions of another, but seeing and loving others well honors the valuable life that God has given to each of us. We all long to be seen and loved and to know that God has hope for us.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
For a full article on this topic and support resources, click HERE.
Survivor support: www.allianceofhope.org
Wellspring Counseling is a professional counseling Center that provides quality mental health services and education to bring about transforming change. Contact us if we can serve you. (786) 573-7010